Wild Animals to Look Out for When Touring Israel

March 13th 2019

For a such a small country, Israel has an amazing diversity of wildlife. From the north to the south – on land, in the air, and even in the seas – there are a variety of amazing wild animals you might spot when touring the nation’s beautiful and ancient landscapes.

Throughout Israel there are many walking trails to enjoy which weave their way through forests, grassland, desert, and mountainous terrain. As you meander by waterfalls, across rivers, below hilltop fortresses, and along millennia-old trading routes, you’ll catch glimpses of Israel’s unique wildlife.

According to the Weizmann Institute of Science, there are 100 mammalian species and 450 bird species in Israel, so there’s a lot of different animals to potentially see.

Some of the wild animals our tour groups have spotted include:

The Arabian Oryx

The Arabian Oryx is a species of antelope native to the Middle East. It had in fact died out in Israel until it was gradually reintroduced in the early 1980s. Its repopulation has been considered a success and today hundreds of wild Oryx can be spotted in the Northern Arava and the Negev Desert regions of Israel. A few breeding couples can also be seen up-close in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.

The Mountain Gazelle

Gazelles have lived in the Land of Israel for thousands of years. They become a symbol of Israel and there’s even a Byzantine-era mosaic of gazelle in the ancient city of Caesarea. Unfortunately, Mountain Gazelles were nearly hunted to extinction until this was prohibited in the early 1990s. You can catch a glimpse of these elegant creatures in the hilly regions of the Galilee, the Golan Heights, and the Judean Desert.

The Nubian Ibex

A Nubian Ibex is a goat native to Israel. The male of the species has huge round horns. While seen in many other neighboring countries, Israel has the largest population of Ibex herds in the world. They are most frequently seen near natural springs or on cliff edges in the Judean and Negev deserts (incl. around Sde Boker, the former Negev home of David Ben-Gurion).

The Rock Hyrax

The Rock Hyrax is another animal species that has an ancient past in Israel. They are mentioned in Proverbs as being small but exceedingly wise. The hyrax is a heavily set rodent-like creature that is surprisingly related to the elephant. They live in rocky areas and can be glimpsed in, among other places, the Judean Hills and around the Sea of Galilee. There are lots of them and there’s currently discussion in Israel regarding the culling of their numbers.

The Griffon Vulture

The Griffin Vulture is an impressive looking bird of prey which can occasionally be seen in the skies of Israel. This scavenger tends to nest on rocky crags in mountainous regions and so it’s most commonly viewed in the skies above the Golan Heights (Gamla Nature Reserve), Upper Galilee, and the Negev Desert (especially over the Ramon Crater).

The Hoopoe

The Hoopoe is the national bird of Israel, despite it not being Kosher. This internationally popular and distinctive bird can easily be identified due to its beautifully colorful plumage and unmistakable “oop-oop-oop” call. The bird is mentioned countless times in the Hebrew scriptures and according to tradition, the Hoopoe guided King Solomon to the Queen of Sheba. The bird can be found throughout Israel.


Everyone loves dolphins. You can get up close to these ‘dogs of the sea’ in the southern city of Eilat. At the Dolphin Reef Beach you can even swim with the friendly creatures, which are free to come and go as they please. There are also floating wooden piers where you can hand fish to the loveable and jolly sea mammals. Although wild animals, they are friendly and curious creatures, and accustomed to human contact.