Fourteen international teams of birders will soon descend on Israel to participate in Champions of the Flyway. The inaugural birding race, which will take place over 24 hours in Eilat on April 1, aims to celebrate and raise awareness of bird migration.

Jonathan Meyrav, Tourism Director of SPNI’s Israel Ornithological Center said that while the teams were expected to have an once-in-a-lifetime experience to sight birds and capture some awesome photos, the real goal of the race is to bring attention to the need to protect birds and their natural habitats.

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“Champions of the Flyway isn’t just a fun race for avid birders; it also carries a strong message for wildlife enthusiasts everywhere,” Meyray said. “While most of us enjoy wild birds in beautiful settings, millions of birds are slaughtered every year as they migrate to and from their breeding grounds. The numbers lost by illegal killing is staggering and truly worrying.”

All teams participating in the race will help support conservation efforts by raising money that will be used to “tackle the illegal killing of birds in Southern and Eastern Europe,” according to the race website.

Upon arrival in Israel, each team will have the opportunity to explore the Eilat terrain and scout out their playing field for three days prior to the race day when the teams are expected to compete in a friendly, birding battle.

Top prize will go to the team that spots the most unique species during the race day while additional prizes will recognize teams that raise the most money, collaborate the best with other teams, and take the best bird photo of the day.

Race organizers also hope that the race will promote Israel as one of the leading birding destinations worldwide and spread the word that Eilat is “one of the most spectacular birding hotspots and rewarding bird destinations.”

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