Thousands of Bats Found Hanging Out in Abandoned Army Outposts

Parks authority wants dozens of Jordan Valley outposts, which house one-third of all bat species found in Israel, to be turned into nature reserves.

Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Zafrir Rinat
Zafrir Rinat

What do you do with a bunch of abandoned army outposts? Turn them into nature reserves for bats, of course.

Or at least, that's what will happen if the Israel Nature and Parks Authority gets its way.

A 'bat reserve' at a disused IDF base in the Jordan Valley.Credit: Eran Amichai

The authority is trying to convince the Defense Ministry and the Israel Lands Administration to turn dozens of abandoned outposts in the Jordan Valley into nature reserves, after discovering that they have become home to no fewer than 12 species of bats - one-third of all the species found in Israel.

Parks authority ecologist Noam Leader presented the outpost plan two weeks ago during an annual conference to unveil the parks authority's plans for the year. The army outposts - some of which hold hundreds of bats, while others house thousands - were abandoned after Israel signed a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994.

Leader said the Defense Ministry and the ILA have said they like the idea in principle, but nothing has been formalized yet.

While some of the outposts are already located in nature reserves, the parks authority wants several other outposts turned into reserves as well. That would let the agency control activities that could harm the bats, like tourism or the use of agricultural pesticides.

The insect-eating bats are a from of biological pest control that reduces the need for chemical pesticides, the researchers said. Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority all use the Jordan Valley for agriculture.

The bats used to live in the Jordan Valley's many natural caves, but were forced to seek new homes when shepherds began using them. The bats now live in the abandoned outposts in the spring and summer, and even raise their young there.

Two researchers from Tel Aviv University, Eran Levin and Eran Amichai, have been studying the outposts' bat population for the last four years, with support from the parks authority. Their most recent survey found 12 species of bats there, including some, like Blasius' horseshoe bat and the greater horseshoe bat, for which the Jordan Valley lies at the very edge of their known habitat - meaning they are more vulnerable to even small disruptions.

Unlike natural caves, the outposts are short of places for the bats to roost, so the researchers and the parks authority have been installing artificial roosts.



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

Already signed up? LOG IN


Trump and Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, in 2020.

Three Years Later, Israelis Find Out What Trump Really Thought of Netanyahu

German soldier.

The Rival Jewish Spies Who Almost Changed the Course of WWII

Rio. Not all Jewish men wear black hats.

What Does a Jew Look Like? The Brits Don't Seem to Know

Galon. “I’m coming to accomplish a specific mission: to increase Meretz’s strength and ensure that the party will not tread water around the electoral threshold. If Meretz will be large enough, it will be the basis for a Jewish-Arab partnership.” Daniel Tchetchik

'I Have No Illusions About Ending the Occupation, but the Government Needs the Left'

Soldiers using warfare devices made by the Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems.

Russia-Ukraine War Catapults Israeli Arms Industry to Global Stage

Flame and smoke rise during an Israeli air strike, amid Israel-Gaza fighting, in Gaza City August 6, 2022.

Israel Should End Gaza Operation Now, if It Can