The fauna of Mount Carmel

When I was a young philosophy student, I remember the sentence of an Asturian Carmelite father who spoke to us about the fauna of Carmel to refer to the brothers of the Discalced Carmelite Order. It was a kind of joke to make us see the variety of people and styles that were and are within the Order. The saying came by the first words with which the hymn “Flos Carmeli”, “Flower of Carmel” begins and also referred to the abundant flora of Carmel. That means the word Karmel, vineyard, garden, paradise …

And here you are, I have found an article that shows us all the animals that were on Mount Carmel in the third decade of the twentieth century. This was stated by the Chronicler:

«The fauna is as varied as the flora. Wild animals take refuge in large bushes. There are fewer and fewer. Often a group of jackals howls under the convent windows when it is dark. However, that does not happen often. Other times, these shy beasts move away when the dogs bark or men clap hands. The lights of the lighthouse frighten them. There are still hyenas, large snakes that are up to over a meter long. It seems that the last panther was executed before the war (refers to the First World War). One of our brothers, who lives in the convent of the Sacrifice, killed several wild cats with stick strokes. It may be that a wolf, who descended from the heights of Taurus following the transhumant, got lost in these places».

«All the birds of Palestine are found in large quantities here, from the eagle to the sparrow. The hoopoe, the woodpecker, the goldfinch, the canary and especially the partridge, these birds are the most found. Mount Carmel is the refuge of hunting. On the hunting licenses issued by the government, a stamp states “except on the property of the convent of Mont Carmel and along the beach between Caiffa and Saint John of Acre”. Then he shows us the pets. It highlights horses, donkeys, camels, cows, sheep, goats, and some mules. The horse is generally of Syrian breed, imported from Asia Minor. You have to go to Transjordan to find the real Arabian horse. The region’s camel comes from Asia Minor”.

Three centuries ago, Father Prosper of the Holy Spirit wrote: «The animals found on this mountain are many wild boars and very large wolves, foxes and one species among the wolves and foxes they call “vauy dobbe” (hyenas), therefore large like the great wolves and kill men. There are also lions, bears, hares, rabbits, deer, mountain goats and other species similar to small monkeys, partridge without numbers , eagles and hawks, which are raised in the rocks of the villages».

The most curious thing, at least for me, is the existence of panthers inside Mount Carmel. Today, there is no feline of this species. However, we know that they existed and lived in these Carmelite places.

Fr.  Óscar I. Aparicio Ahedo, ocd.


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