Send to friendPrinter-friendly version

Hunting of Migrant Birds in the Lebanon

End of a journey: Lebanese hunter with a shot Cranes (Source: Facebook)End of a journey: Lebanese hunter with a shot Cranes (Source: Facebook)Photos like this give an idea of the unbelievable dimension of the poaching of migrant birds in the Near East. Armed men pose proudly with freshly-killed Cranes and Pelicans. Another grinning hunter presents a dead Lesser Spotted Eagle. His colleague lays out his daily bag for the photographer, some 1,000 freshly-shot song birds neatly exhibited on a bed sheet. Two children, barely eight years of age, innocently inspect two dead Honey Buzzards that their father brought home from the hunt today. In the foreground there is another still life of nine shot White Storks. Behind them the hunter casually poses with a cigarette in one hand and a Stork’s beak in the other. Somewhat out of focus, but clearly identifiable, are the corpses of a further dozen White Storks, killed during the night and now neatly piled on the bonnet of a 4 x 4.

This Pelican is wounded but still alive – it is proudly presented as a hunting trophy (Source: Facebook)This Pelican is wounded but still alive – it is proudly presented as a hunting trophy (Source: Facebook)These shocking pictures were taken in the Lebanon where, despite an official hunting ban every year, countless European migrant birds are shot by local hunters. The ‘trophy’ photographs, many taken with mobile phones, are particularly authentic as they are taken by the poachers themselves and uploaded to Facebook.

The Lebanon Eco Movement (LEM) is an umbrella organisation for more than 60 conservation NGOs in the Lebanon and has now joined forces with CABS in order to muster international support. LEM has monitored the hunters’ Facebook pages for several months and painstakingly collected all photographs portraying evidence of illegal hunting. The result is a comprehensive photo documentation, the content of which stuns conservationists throughout Europe and beyond. CABS president Heinz Schwarze sums up the situation “The hunting of migrant birds in the Lebanon is now completely out of control. Hunters shoot whatever species they want in unrestricted quantities. There is no effective species protection”. He continues “The fact that the poachers publish the evidence of their massacres for all and sundry to see on the internet demonstrates ignorance and a complete lack of conscience on their part”.

Song bird massacre as leisure activity is commonplace in the Lebanon (Source: Facebook)Song bird massacre as leisure activity is commonplace in the Lebanon (Source: Facebook)Hunting in the Lebanon has been banned since 1995. In order to combat the still widespread illegal killing of wildlife a draft law was produced in 2004 that permitted the hunting of some common species (incl. Common Quail and Thrushes) but at the same time laid down penalties for the hunting of many migrant species such as all birds of prey, Storks and Pelicans. Although the law was passed a number of related regulatory decrees were not issued until this year. “ It must be emphasised that the delay in publishing the regulatory decrees led to the planned hunting season not being officialy opened this year so that uncontrolled poaching continued. ” states Paul Abi Rashed, president of the LEM.Hunting clubs, which issue the actual permits, were therefore unprepared. In addition a governmental national awareness campaign on the hunting issue is lacking. For its part the LEM has begun cooperating with hunters and hunting groups to promote awareness and education, and the initial results appear satisfactory. In order to persuade the responsible politicians in Beirut to finally take effective action, the conservationist isrelying above all on support from abroad. “The birds killed in our country are protected elsewhere at considerable cost in money and manpower. Millions of dollars invested in the breeding areas are wasted” Rashed complains. The LEM calls on all EU member states to take an unambiguous stance against the continuing massacre of migrant birds, and to put pressure on the Lebanese Government to do more for bird conservation.

More shocking photos from the Lebanon

The bigger the better – shot Griffon Vulture (Source: FacebookThe bigger the better – shot Griffon Vulture (Source: Facebook

Lesser Spotted Eagle: Threatened with extinction in Europe – a moving target for hunters in the LebanonLesser Spotted Eagle: Threatened with extinction in Europe – a moving target for hunters in the Lebanon


A little girl shows off a shot HobbyA little girl shows off a shot Hobby


Senseless killing of StorksSenseless killing of Storks


Hunter with shot Chaffinches and other song birdsHunter with shot Chaffinches and other song birds


Short-toed Eagle – shot, but still aliveShort-toed Eagle – shot, but still alive


The bird massacre leaves its traces – countless cartridge cases in the Lebanese forests collected by this commited environmentalistThe bird massacre leaves its traces – countless cartridge cases in the Lebanese forests collected by this commited environmentalist