Hunting of Migrant Birds in the Lebanon
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.
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”.
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.
On-the-spot protests and education – lend your support!
For the spring migration season the LEM plans, in parallel to protest actions, a comprehensive public relations campaign in the main poaching hotspots. Measures include the distribution among local hunters of posters and flyers explaining the conservation status of migrant bird species. CABS has agreed to provide financial and logistic support for this campaign. In addition it is planned to send a team of CABS activists to the Lebanon in autumn 2013 that, together with LEM experts, will collect further data on the extent of the hunting of migrant birds in the country.
In addition to publication of the photographic evidence gathered so far, CABS and LEM are working on a joint report on poaching in the Lebanon to be sent to the European Commission and Environment Ministers of all EU member states. “We intend to use all available channels in order to finally persuade the government in Beirut to take prompt and effective action” says Heinz Schwarze.
You too can do your bit to increase the pressure on the decision-makers in the Lebanon. Send an email to the Lebanese Embassy in your country. A draft text is given below (cut and paste) – alternatively use your own words. Please cc. or bcc. to email@example.com so that we can monitor progress of the protest campaign.
Migrant Bird Slaughter in the Lebanon
The extent of illegal killing of migrant bird species in the Lebanon has reached enormous and unacceptable proportions.
The great majority of these birds have their breeding grounds in Europe where millions of dollars are invested for their conservation.
It is time that the Government of the Lebanon to stop closing their eyes to the problem and to ensure that effective legislation to protect wildlife is adopted and implemented.
Please ensure that our sentiments are passed on to the responsible decision and policy-makers in the Lebanese Government.
(Name and address)
Addresses for protest mails for selected European countries:
- BELGIUM & LUXEMBURG
- CZECH REPUBLIC
- UNITED KINGDOM
Email addresses for countries not listed here can, where they exist, be found at:
More shocking photos from the Lebanon