From ancient times Israel's native mammals have had an important role in Jewish culture, featuring in colourful biblical metaphors and prophecies, as symbols of the tribes of Israel, or discussed at length in the dietry codes so central to the Jewish culinary tradition.
The young David battles a bear and a lion, and Samson struggles with a juvenile lion. Torah scrolls are written on parchment from deer or antelope skins, the Jewish New Year is commemorated by blowing on the ram's horn and the very Land of Israel itself is described as the "Land of the Gazelle".
The Hebrew word for fox is (pronounced) shoo-awl; it means burrower, from the fox trait of living in dug-out burrows. The so-called Syrian fox is the only fox native to the land of Israel.
The leopard, is Israel's only remaining big cat, though its future survival remains in doubt with only a few individuals left in the Judean and Negev deserts, and possibly no surviving females.
The ibex is a kind of wild goat whose biblical Hebrew name is the ya'el. They are common around springs in the Negev and Judean deserts, where they are most likely to be seen nonchalantly walking along the edge of a high cliff or munching on desert foliage. Hungry ibex may even be seen perched atop acacia trees attempting to nip of the juiciest leaves.