War hurts wildlife
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 2006:
Scarce wildlife habitat in both Lebanon and Israel took a big
hit from the July and August 2006 fighting.
“Huge swaths of forests and fields across northern Israel
were scorched by Hezbollah rocket strikes,” reported Associated
Press writer Aron Heller. “Charred branches stick out of the ground
like grave markers at the Mount Naftali Forest overlooking Kiryat
Shemona. In all, rocket fire destroyed 16,500 acres of forests and
grazing fields, said Jewish National Fund forest supervisor Michael
Weinberger, the top administrator of Israel’s forests. About a
million trees were destroyed.
“The Mount Naftali Forest,” planted by Israeli settlers in
1948, “was hit by rockets earlier,” Heller continued. “Afternoon
gusts carried the flames, wiping out 750 acres and trapping
gazelles, jackals, rabbits and snakes.”
Less than an hour’s drive north in peacetime, Lebanese
environment minister Yacoub Sarraf could only helplessly watch fuel
oil from the bombed Jiyyeh power station spread along the coast. The
station was hit by Israeli jets on July 13 and 15.
“We cannot get equipment, companies, labour or know-how to
handle the problem,” Sarraff told BBC science and nature reporter
Mark Kinver on August 8. “Intervention can help most within the
first 48 to 72 hours after a spill. We are already 20 days too late.”
The oil-exporting consortium OPEC committed $200,000 to
clean-up efforts in early August, but the spill continued spreading,
unchecked, into September, coating sea turtle nesting habitat and
accumulating to a depth of four inches on the sea bed, according to
divers who did a late-August inspection. Poisoned fish reportedly
washed ashore along the length of Lebanon.