In an episode of the History Channel’s futuristic documentary series “Life After People,” a large lion with a beautiful mane is seen roaming in Washington on the White House lawn. The narrator explains that wild animals have quickly taken over major cities. Haaretz photographer Ofer Vaknin’s photos of jackals, which he took in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park this week, are reminiscent of that series, but the joy – or panic – over their takeover is a bit premature and very much blown out of proportion.
Roughly 10 families of jackals have been living in Hayarkon Park for the past decade. They reached the area of the park known as Sheva Tahanot (Seven Mills) from further east along the Yarkon River in search of food and have acclimated to living around people. Until recently, scraps of food in the park were plentiful, left behind by visitors from their barbecuing.
But since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, most Israelis are confined to their homes and the country’s parks and beaches have been closed. Recent reports attest to the fact that Yarkon Park’s jackals have taken to the trails in the park with greater confidence, but they may also be worrying about where everyone has gone with their food.
Speaking to Haaretz, Prof. Yoram Yom-Tov, who is a zoologist, said he didn’t think the situation in the park has changed in a major way. “The animals see it as an opportunity and are going to places that look better to them for finding food. During the current season, we can assume that there are also newborn pups, and that the demand for food has been increasing,” he noted.
So the world has apparently not parted with humankind, and Yarkon Park is still not a wild savanna, but the photos are still amazing.