The oryx (Hebrew re’em), or aurochs, is a herbivore known for its two
straight horns. A type of antelope, the oryx lives in herds and moves about
the desert in search of food, and like other desert animals, it can endure
long periods without water. Although it does come from the same family as
the wild ox, the NIV rendering of the oryx as a “wild ox” is inaccurate. By
1973, there were no oryx living in Israel. Today, 80 oryx are at Haibar
The donkey was the common beast of burden throughout biblical times. Female
donkeys could be ridden or milked, and males were good for plowing and
trampling seed. Like camels and many other desert animals, donkeys can
tolerate significant water loss (though not as great as the camel) and are
able to replenish that loss quickly. This is because their sweat contains a
low concentration of chloride. When the animals re-hydrate, their chloride
level therefore remains the same, not needing to be replenished by the
The ibex (Hebrew ya‘el), also called a “rock goat” or “wild goat” (KJV), is
a large species of wild goat that feeds on green shrubs and chews its cud
(it is a ruminant). Ibex are dependent on water, and make their homes near
water sources. One member of the herd will keep watch and whistle if danger
approaches. The cliffs provide safety for the ibex because its strong,
agile legs and grooved hooves allow it to climb the rocks in difficult
areas. Its hooves are like sheep hooves but are hollow underneath with a
ridge surrounding them, and its forelegs are shorter than its hind legs.
This male ibex is identifiable by its goatee, long, curving horns, and
The Syrian coney, also known as the hyrax or rock badger (Hebrew shaphan)
looks like an overgrown guinea pig. It can easily move about on rocks and
difficult terrain because its feet have built-in suction. Its diet consists
of plants and various grasses, but although it does have a three-part
digestive tract, it does not ruminate. As is necessary for survival in the
desert, the coney can maintain water well, but has difficulty with direct
heat, and thus hides in the rocks.
frequently referenced in judgment passages in Scripture as a wild animal
that inhabits a place abandoned by man.
Isaiah 34:13 (NIV) “Thorns will
overrun her citadels, nettles and brambles her strongholds. She will
become a haunt for jackals, a home for owls.”
Job 30:29 (NIV) “I have become a
brother of jackals, a companion of owls.”
Sheep and Shepherds
(BiblePlaces.com) Photos and information about flocks and those who
keep watch by day and by night.
Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve (The Red Sea Desert) A
description of the Hai-Bar Nature Reserve with some facts and
pictures of the wildlife that are being reintroduced into the
Hai Bar Conservation Programmes (Leiah Elbaum) A discussion of
the work at the Hai Bar Nature Reserve including several pictures of
Some Biblical animal species of the desert (Tu B'shvat
Environmental Program) A helpful list of many biblical animals,
providing their scientific names, verse references, and other facts.
Promised Land of the Ostrich (National Wildlife Federation) An
informative article about the ostriches at Hai Bar Nature
Reserve. Provides many fascinating facts about these biblical
Birding Israel Website (Birding Israel) A webpage devoted to
birdwatching in Israel. Includes photos of several species of birds.
Southern Israel (Leiah Elbaum)
account of birds in various regions of the south, with pictures.