Operation “Bambi”

Photo by Shani Pomes

Operation “Bambi”

Despite the beauty of this unique species, which only exists in Israel, it poses a significant danger to the aircrafts and soldiers of the airbase

Photo by Shani Pomes

Operation “Bambi”

It was decided that a mobile force of cars of the Nature and Parks Authority and the “Kingfisher” commando unit would be spread out at distances equal to one another

Photo by Shir Cohen

The population of Gazelles at Nevatim airbase poses a safety challenge for the jets of the base. Last Thursday, the soldiers of Nevatim airbase, in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority, tried to solve the dilemma in a unique operation to bring the gazelle to a designated area on the premises of the airbase

Shani Pomes

An extraordinary operation was carried out last week at Nevatim airbase: Operation “Bambi”. The goal of the operation was to bring gazelles residing at the airbase to designated areas on base and the soldiers of the base took part in the operation in cooperation with the Nature and Parks Authority. Despite the beauty of this unique species, which only exists in Israel, it poses a significant danger to the aircrafts and soldiers of the airbase. The gazelles roam freely on the premises of the airbase and some of them (mostly the males) wander close to the runways and raise the risks involved in taking off and landing. “Over the past year and a half, we had 10 incidents of gazelles being hit by planes”, explains Lieutenant Colonel Etay, Aviation Squadron Commander on base. “With this development, the tension between us and the gazelles has grown. We understood that we had to do something about the matter. We examined a variety of options and decided to perform a separation mission that would save the lives of the population of gazelles and would allow them the potential to grow”.

The participants built a fence north of Nevatim that would lead the population of gazelles on base, which consists of 20 gazelles. “There are big concerns today: the gazelle is a sensitive animal that can die from being stressed. So we also brought a veterinarian”, explains Dr. Assaf Tzoar, an ecologist with the Nature and Parks Authority. “It is an extraordinary operation even for us because we don’t prepare the way we usually do”.

Deploying Mobile Forces Throughout the Airbase

Before dawn, the participants gathered together in the briefing room of the “Desert Giants” squadron at Nevatim airbase. The alertness and the level of serious during the briefing were similar to that of a briefing of one before an operational flight. It was decided that a mobile force of cars of the Nature and Parks Authority and the “Kingfisher” commando unit would be spread out at distances equal to one another and would guide the gazelles to the designated area. The soldiers of the base were also spread out in the administrative areas on base in order to prevent animals from entering.
“The territory of the base is huge and deploying the mobile force is a complex challenge”, says Lieutenant Colonel Etay. “The mobile force needs to cover a large area in which the most significant challenge is the topography. We have areas here that are hard to move in”.

Protecting the Aircrafts and The Gazelles
The operation ended in the when some of the gazelles were moved to the new habitat spread out across 130 hectares of land. “The experiment we performed today was half successful. We have seen that we have ability and move the gazelles but we have also understood that it is a territorial animal that returns to places it has been”, said Ezra Shushan, Manager of the Southern Region of the Nature and Parks Authority, at the end of the day. “We will try to find other ways of gathering the gazelles. Our cooperation with the base is not over yet”.Brigadier General Lihu Hacohen, Base commander: “It was important to hold this operation today. We will continue to do so in the future. We have an interest in protecting the gazelles on the one hand and the planes on the other”.

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