Hunting of migrant birds in the Lebanon
Photos like this begin to give the observer an idea of the unbelievable dimension of migrant bird poaching in the Near East. Armed men pose with freshly-shot Cranes and Pelicans. Another grins into the camera holding a dead Lesser Spotted Eagle. His friends have neatly laid out their daily bag - about 1,000 shot song birds - on a bedsheet for the photographer. Two children, hardly eight years of age, examine wide-eyed two dead Honey Buzzards that their father has brought home today from the hunt. Another ‘still life’ shows in the foreground nine freshly-killed White Storks. Behind them the hunter, with a stork’s beak in one hand and a cigarette in the other, poses casually for the camera. Somewhat out of focus, but still identifiable, are the corpses of some two dozen more White Storks, killed during the night in the desert and now neatly arranged on the bonnet of a four-wheel-drive vhicle.
These shocking pictures were taken in the Lebanon where, despite an official ban on hunting, countless European migrant birds are shot by local hunters. The trophy pictures, many taken with a mobile phone, are particularly authentic as they are taken by the hunters themselves and uploaded to Facebook. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter is now lending support to the Lebanese Eco Movement (LEM - the Facebook page is here ) - an umbrella organisation of more than 60 Lebanese NGOs active in the field of conservation and nature protection. The LEM has monitored the Facebook pages of the hunters for months and painstakingly collected all photographic evidence of illegal hunting. The result is a comprehensive compendium of photographs that render s European bird and nature conservationists speechless. “Hunting of migrant birds in the Lebanon is completely out of control. Everyone can shoot what and how many he will. There is no effective enforcement of species protection regulations” summarises CABS President Heinz Schwarze. “The fact that poachers have openly published the evidence of their massacre shows that they have no sense of right or wrong” the conservationist adds.
Hunting in the Lebanon has been banned officially since 1995. In order to better combat the still widespread poaching, a draft law was written in 2004 to permit hunting of a few common species, but at the same time making the shooting of numerous migrant species (including all birds of prey, storks, pelicans etc.) a punishable offence. This draft law has however still not come into force. In order to put pressure on the responsible politicians in Beirut to finally take action, the local conservationists are counting on international support. The LEM challenges the states of the European Union to take a clear stance against the massacre and put pressure on the Lebanese Government to do more for bird protection and conservation.
Protest and education in the Lebanon - you too can help!
In parallel to protest action the LEM plan a comprehensive public relations campaign in the country’s poaching hotspots in spring 2014. This will include explaining the conservation status of bird species to the hunters and the publication and distribution of relevant posters and leaflets. 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 in order , together with the LEM, to collect more data on the extent of migratory bird hunting.
In addition to the publication of the photographic evidence collected to date, CABS and the LEM are currently working on a joint report on bird poaching in the Lebanon for the attention of the European Commission and the Environment ministers of all EU states. “We intend to use all available channels to force the Beirut government to finally take effective action” states Heinz Schwarze.
You too can help to increase the pressure on the decision-makers in Beirut. Show the flag and protect to the Lebanese Embassy or Consulate in your country (copy to Komitee@komitee.de please)
You can find the address (including email address in most cases) of the Lebanese Embassy or Consulate in you country at the link below:
More photos from the Lebanon