Prof. Yossi Leshem

Prof. Yossi Leshem
Photographer: Michal Roche-Ben Ami​

Prof. Yossi Leshem has worked at Israel’s leading NGO, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) since 1971. He also served as its CEO from 1991-1995, and acted as the SPNI Council Chairman until 2011. Leshem is a professor emeritus in the School of Zoology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University, and is the founder and Director of the International Center for the Study of Bird Migration. He is involved in many aspects of nature conservation, with emphasis on bird research for over 40 years. His research for his doctorate, which was conducted in cooperation with the Israeli Air Force, has resulted in a decrease of 76% in the number of collisions and has saved 1.3 billion dollars, not to mention the numbers of lives. Yossi flew 272 days with a motorized glider, wingtip to wingtip with millions of birds, to map the migration over Israel.


He serves as Lt. Col. (Ret.) in the Israeli Air Force and continues this research. In 2005 he won the prestigious Mike Kuhring Prize for achievements of high significance for improved flight safety concerning the bird problems of aviation, and for his mission to connect safety with nature  onservation via education that gave bird strike prevention world wide appreciation. Until recently he was a member of the steering committee of the International Bird Strike Committee (IBSC). Leshem is involved in a variety of activities in bird migration research, in educational activities that take place in over 400 schools in Israel part of the cooperation with the Palestinians and the Jordanians, and has developed an Internet educational and scientific site ( called "Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries." Yossi led several projects of using Barn Owls and Kestrels as biological pest control agents in agriculture in Israel, Jordan and Palestinian Authority which became a success story even in tense periods.


Leshem received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Environmental Protection in 2008, awarded during the sixty years events of the State of Israel by the President and the Minister of the Environment. In 2012 was awarded the prestigious Bruno H. Schubert Award (first place) in Germany. In 2017 he was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Israel Society of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Leshem has published seven books, scientific papers, and hundreds of articles in popular magazines. He is 70 years old, married, with five children and seven grandchildren.

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