• Issue: December 1967
  • Designer: M. & G. Shamir
  • Plate no.: 213 -215
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

There is only a remnant of the rich wild life of Biblical times left in Israel today, At least 15 species have died out, and that may not be all, as animals are mentioned in the Bible only at random.

Some wild animals, like the Oryx and wild Cattle, the Hippopotamus and the wild Ass disappeared in ancient times, while others, like the Lions, were extinct in the Crusader period. The Syrian Bear and the Fallow Deer survived until the last century, the Roe Deer until the beginning of the present century. Single Leopards may still exist, notwithstanding that this formerly common species was exterminated over most of its former range in Israel.

Thanks to the Law for the Preservation of Wild life in Israel and its careful implementation by the Israel Nature Reserves Authority, we still have the Gazelle, the wild Boar, the Ibex, the Hyena, the Wolf, the Jackal, the Hyrax, the Caracal Lynx and others.

The ibex

The Ibex, one of the most striking and magnificent of the wild animals in the country, is a kind of wild goat. The mature male, like the goat, has a goatee and horns that grow to a length of four feet and more. Its yellowish brown color blends generally with its desert environment. In contrast to the body, the legs are white with dark stripes. These striking marks are supposed to serve as a means of communication between the members of the herd, which sometimes numbers several dozens.

The Ibex live among rocky crags and steep cliffs. "The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats ..." (Psalms 104: 18).

The rock ledges are fortresses for these animals, which are not prone to dizziness. For many years the Ibex have been ruthlessly hunted. Only a few hundred survived in the most inaccessible places, when the State of Israel was established.

Today, with laws to protect and preserve the wildlife of the country, their number in the area between Ein Gedi and Eilat, is estimated to be 800-1,500.

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The felis (lynx) caracal

The Felis (Lynx) Caracal is a large yellowish brown cat, with long tufts of black hair on the tips of its ears. This is the source of its name as Caracal, in Turkish, means "black ears." The Caracal lives only in hot, dry areas - from South Africa to Turkey in the North and in Turkestan, as well as in India and in the East. The Caracal lives in the Southern Negev, the Aravah and the southern coastal plain, It spends the day, alone or with its mate, in hole or cave and emerges at dusk in order to hunt. It feeds on small mammals - hares, mice, young gazelles and birds. It advances towards its prey crawling and pounces on it suddenly, being able to catch even rising birds.

The Caracal has a beautiful and sought-after fur. It was therefore hunted mercilessly in Africa to the extent that the whole species was threatened with extinction. In Israel the Caracal is protected as are most other wild animals and may not be harmed in any way.

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The dorcas gazelle

Two species of Gazelle are found in Israel: the Mountain Gazelle, found in most parts of the country from Upper Galilee to the central and western Negev, and the Dorcas Gazelle which is found only in the Judean desert, in the Aravah valley and in the southern and central Negev. At first sight the two are quite similar but on closer examination it will be found that the color of the Dorcas Gazelle is lighter, its ears are larger, the tail longer and the shape of its horns is obviously different from those of the Mountain Gazelle.

Long experience taught the Gazelles, which live in groups or herds, to flee from Man who was hunting them relentlessly. Even in flight their grace and beauty are evident, their black tails standing out clearly against the white color of their rumps. The Dorcas Gazelle was also to be found in the deserts of Transjordan, Sinai and Saudi Arabia, but there it is now extinct owing to excessive hunting. Today Israel is the last place in the world where the survival of this Gazelle is assured.

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Nature Reserves (I)