Palestine Wildlife Initiative

Palestine Wildlife Initiative is a project launched by Mohammed Mar'i, an award winning Palestinian photo-journalist working in the Gaza Strip, in conjunction with award winning syndicated columnist Ray Hanania to raise funds to document all of the Palestinian plant, insect and animal species in Palestine.

The funds we raise will be used specifically for 3 high resolution cameras, and 6 high resolution lenses, plus the cost of maintaining a website on its own server for 10 years (camera equipment needed is listed below).

We have a temporary website at where you can view our progress and updated information and initial photographs.

Mar'i will begin photographing and then indexing by species each and every plant, animal and insect and Hanania will place the photographs in a soon-to-be-launched website.

The purpose is to document and preserve Palestinian heritage and culture and prevent it from being erased by the conflict with Israel.

Letter from Mohammed Mar'i:

"I am Palestinian photographer, besides my duties in the office of chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, interested in documenting Palestinian nature, especially its plants and animals, so as to contribute to its preservation from the deliberate effacement pursued by the Israeli occupation which works with great efforts to cancel their Arab names and replace them with Hebrew names and even consider them symbols of Israeli state.

"I, in cooperation with two Palestinian experts, work voluntarily to document the plants, birds and wildlife species in various areas of Palestine. We are working to spread the information through various means in order to become a scientific reference for for researchers, students and interested readers.

"We have reached a stage in the documentation project so that we became in need of financial support in order to buy photography equipments (the sum of 9000 US dollars). This will enable us to take professional and high quality images that will allow the students and researchers distinguish between wildlife species."

* * *

The Palestine Conflict is about land ownership and everything on that land. And Palestinians need to struggle and work hard to protect that heritage of plant life identification, animal life identification, insects, and all aspects of Palestine's environment and landscape.

We hope you can help.

Mar'i is seeking to purchase the necessary camera equipment to allow long-range, detailed photographs to document each species of bird, animal and plant.

The goal is $70,000 US Dollars. (Professional camera equipment is expensive but is essential to producing a high quality product that documents for the future all of the plant and animal life in Palestine's environment.)

Mar'i needs your help to complete this project. Some of the funds will be used to create a website where all of the photos and data will be stored for free public access.

Watch this site for the campaign to raise funds to begin this project.

In the meantime, here is more information about Mohammed Mar'i and his dream:

Palestine Wildlife Initiative (PWI)

Fact: As an aftereffect of the lack of understanding and information available to the people of Palestine as a result of the special circumstances faced in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (including Jerusalem), the wide use of herbicides in Palestine has risen and subsequently some species, such as butterflies and bees, have joined the endangered species list in lieu of the use of these toxic and often misused chemical materials.

The birth of PWI: The organizer, Mohammed Mar'i, in partnership with two Palestinian experts on nature, has been voluntarily documenting plants, birds, and wildlife species in various areas of Palestine in order to disseminate information and display high quality photographs and become a scientific reference for researchers, students, and interested readers.

About organizer Mohammed Mar'i: After this photographer and nature lover arduously convinced the principal of one elementary school in a Palestinian village to organize a field trip for children to introduce them to the wonderful world of nature, it became a trend for other schools in Palestine to follow suit. Considering that most Palestinian schools take trips to amusement parks or to the beach, it was not only a personal achievement for the organizer but a victory in the name of protecting wildlife by educating the youth, aka the future generation, about the necessity of caring about life other than human beings because they were taught that animals and plants can be loved because they all contain a soul and have a unique beauty. The devastating reality of not knowing about this pertinent subject yielded to PWI.

Objective: This passion project aims to raise awareness about the dangers that surrounds wildlife in the State of Palestine. By documenting nature, we hope this advocacy will be viewed as a lobbying effort that will ultimately persuade the government to take substantive steps and advertently issue laws that protect endangered species and plants in Palestinian society.

Essential Equipment Required:

The Cameras ($53,500)

1- Nikon D850 ($3,500 US dollars)

2- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800 mm f/5.6EFL E ($20,000)

3- Sigma 200-500mm f2.8 APO EX DG. ($30,00)

The Lenses ($7,000):

1- NIKON 14-24mm 2.8 G ED AF-S

2- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 G ED AF-S

3- Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 G ED AF-S2

4- Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 APPO EX DG

5-Nikon 800mmf/5.6E FL ED VR

6- Sigma 800mmf/5.6APPO EX D

Miscellaneous ($10,000):

1- SD Cards, camera bag, lens cleaner, tripod

2- Website hosting (private server 10 years) $10,000

Approximate Total costs: $70,000 US dollars


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Ray Hanania 
Orland Park, IL
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