SEEN - SE European Bird Migration Network
Two decades of bird-related activities at the IBRCEilat: a status report

Jill Oron, Tzadok Tzemach, Reuven Yosef

International Birding & Research Centre in Eilat, Eilat, Israel

The International Birding & Research Centre in Eilat (IBRCE) was established as a non-profit, NGO in 1984. Since then the centre has dealt in a wide range of avian-related topics including research, conservation, education and eco-tourism.
Conservation – IBRCE has been instrumental in the recycling of the local garbage tip and creating on top of it a Bird Sanctuary. The purpose of the project is to compensate the migratory bird populations for the areas developed for human purposes. This resulted in the Swarovski Optics award in 1988 and Associate Laureate of Rolex Awards in 2000. We are trying to improve on this by aiding Jordan to recycle a garbage tip close to the Israel-Jordan border. We also operate within the national framework of our government on the subject of monitoring avian populations for various diseases, with a stress on avian influenza.
Research and publications – Since 1984 ringing was undertaken in the spring and autumn migrations of each of the years. This has resulted in more than 200,000 birds, of 273 species, ringed. The major groups are passerines, waders, and raptors. Research into a wide range of subjects has resulted in more than 100 peer-reviewed papers and six books being published during this period. The papers relate to identification, age and sex-related migration strategies, oddities in individuals trapped, orientation, etc. It is obvious that the prevalence of the subjects most studied and published were a function of the person in charge of the IBRCE ringing programme. In the first years (1984–1989) Hadoram Shirihai published a series of identification and raptor migration papers, and since 1993 the present director Dr. Reuven Yosef has co-authored several tens of papers on a wide range of published reports with other researchers and students (mostly Italian and Polish).
Education – At present more than 100,000 people visit the Bird Sanctuary annually. Of these almost 60,000 are school children. At the Bird Sanctuary there are two open-air classrooms and the conservation of habitats for migratory birds is stressed. Students from universities from around the world conduct their field research for their advanced degrees at Eilat. In parallel, RY lectures in ornithology at Ben-Gurion University and at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies since 1994. Another aspect of our “volunteer” programme is to influence and encourage young people to be involved in our field. Between the years 1993–2005 we have hosted 457 volunteers from 31 countries. Many of our “veterans” are today students at leading universities in the world.
Eco-tourism – the IBRCE staff consider tourism as part of the educational and public outreach programme. We participate at the annual British Birdwatching Fair in the UK. We distribute information to the visiting birdwatchers and encourage the regular tourist to indulge in eco-friendly behaviours. Our creating the Bird Sanctuary in Eilat facilitates bird watching and group recreational activity, and in recognition was awarded the runner-up for the Conde Nast Award for Eco-tourism in 2000.

Created by Pronetix 2006