A ‘safari’ in the footsteps of extinct animals reintroduced to the wild.
By Israel Nature and Parks Authority
Hai-Bar Yotvata, located in the southern Arava Valley north of Eilat was established to foster the breeding of animals mentioned in the Bible and other endangered desert animals. The reserve encompasses a variety of arid-land habitats including acacia groves, salt-flats and sand.
Hai-Bar Yotvata is divided into three main sections: a 12-square-kilometer open area where herds of desert herbivores live in conditions similar to the wild; a predator center with enclosures containing large predators, reptiles and small desert animals; and a ‘dark room’ to view nocturnal animals when they are active.The main animals in the reserve are the wild Asiatic ass (individuals from this breeding nucleus have been released in the Negev and seem to be acclimating well), the African wild ass - the progenitor of the domesticated donkey; Arabian oryx (whose image provided the logo for Hai-Bar Yotvata and whose straight, parallel horns some say are the origin of the unicorn legend), Sahara oryx (raised at Hai-Bar Yotvata as part of an international effort to save this species from extinction); addax and ostriches.
The predators in their special enclosures include the wolf, Ruppell’s fox, Blanford’s fox, spotted leopard, caracal, wild cat and striped hyena. Reptiles and raptors are also on display. Among the denizens of the ‘dark room’ are the lesser Egyptian gerbil, Wagner’s gerbil, Sundevall’s jird and garden dormouse, fruit bat, Scops owl and barn owl. An informative CD that guides visitors through the reserve in their car is for sale for NIS 5 at the reserve shop. Groups of visitors can reserve a tour with a reserve guide in their own cars at a cost of NIS 200. Visitors tour the predators center and the ‘dark room’ on their own.
How to get there?
On the Dead Sea-Eilat (no. 90) road, between kibbutzim Yotvata and Samar, 35 km north of Eilat; Egged bus 390 from Tel Aviv, 397 from Beer Sheva , 444 from Jerusalem and 991 from Haifa to Samar.