No, this isn’t about me being a party animal. Sorry.
I live in a building on the edge of and overlooking a wadi – a valley or canyon between two hills of the Carmel mountain range. This wadi is also a nature reserve. With no fences. So the wild and the domesticated live side by side and occasionally intermingle.
The most noticeable, I suppose, are the jackals. The golden jackal – canis aureus – is the largest of the jackals and the only one found outside of Africa. It’s related to the gray wolf and the coyote. When we gaze into the wadi we can sometimes see a pack of jackals passing by under the trees. When darkness falls they venture closer to the houses to look for food, and often wander along the streets and paths. They communicate by melodious howls – we are treated to daily serenades. Sometimes one begins and another will answer – and frequently about 10-20 more will join in the chorus. During the day it’s fainter – at night they are literally under the windows. We’re quite used to it, but first-time visitors can be a bit startled. Their diet is about half plant and half animal – usually they catch small rodents or birds, but there are sometimes reports of cats or toy dogs going missing around the neighbourhood.
I leave for work as light is breaking, and often see jackals hurrying back to the cover of the wadi. Yesterday while waiting for my driver I saw three – a pair who came down the sidewalk and ducked between my building and the one next door, and another who crossed the street into our yard and stood on our path looking at me until I moved and it turned and ran behind the building and into the trees.
Another very common sight is a mongoose scuttling across a road or through yards. The Egyptian mongoose – herpestes ichneumon – is the largest of all the African mongooses (no, the plural isn’t mongeese, but it should be). They are most famous for the fact that they attack and eat snakes, including the venomous ones, which is a great natural control. Payback, I suppose, for all the other rodents who fall prey to the snakes.
One group of wadi residents who has given people periods of hassle is the wild boar – sus scrofa – although I haven’t seen many lately. Kidlet claims to see more of them running through yards and going through hedges.
The local wild mammals, in addition to the birds making a racket all day and the bats – Israel boasts 32 species of insectivorous bats – flying around at night make an interesting contrast to the usual mix of people, dogs, cats and other creatures one finds in a city neighbourhood. I love it. What I really really could do without, however, are the large flying cockroaches who can sail into the house via the windows. I want them to go away. The sooner the better.
Today’s mitzvah: Gave a compliment – and some cash – to a street musician. He was playing show tunes on an electric violin. 🙂