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Bird protection camps in the Lebanon

The bigger the better – shot Griffon Vulture (Source: FacebookThe bigger the better – shot Griffon Vulture (Source: FacebookShooting or trapping protected species is a selfish ‘hobby’ which is vandalizing the common natural heritage of all people in the Mediterranean, Africa and Europe. Recent studies have revealed that – among other countries – Lebanon is one of the biggest hotspots of this problem a high density of hunting and poaching of migratory birds as they pass along the Eastern flyway. No one has the exact numbers, but recent studies estimate that between two and three million migratory birds are shot or trapped in the Lebanon each year, with more than 290 species being affected.

Most of the birds killed by Lebanese poachers belong to migratory species of international conservation concern. These birds breed in Europe, where considerable resources and efforts are put into protecting the last remaining breeding pairs. These efforts are undermined, if the birds don’t come back to breed because they get needlessly killed along their migration route.

Since 2012 CABS, together with our partners from the Society for the Protection of Nature in the Lebanon (SPNL), Lebanese Eco Movement and other NGOs such as Association for Bird Conservation in Lebanon (ABCL) have started awareness campaigns which included several international publications about the problem as well as various local events to educate hunters and children about the value of birds and their vulnerability as well as the new Hunting Law 580 which has been enforced since 2017.

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 LebanonIn September 2017 CABS experts from France, Turkey, Germany, Italy and the UK coordinated the first official Bird Protection Camp in Lebanon; together Lebanese conservationists from the Society for the Protection of Nature in the Lebanon (SPNL) and members of the Middle Eastern Sustainable Hunting Centre (MESHC) our teams monitored bird migration and illegal hunting in the Lebanese countryside.

The teams maintained a regular presence in the main hunting ‘hotspots’ and migratory ‘bottleneck’ areas such as the coastal front of the Jbeil region, Aramoun mountains along the mid-heights of the western slopes of Mount Lebanon. All incidents of shooting or trapping of protected bird species were documented and reported to the authorities. Our subsequent field investigations in 2018 have found that illegal killing of protected migratory birds is far more rampant than initially thought. With hundreds and thousands of swallows, warblers, beeeaters and larger birds, such as white storks, honey buzzards and lesser spotted eagles being routinely blasted from the skies with impunity. The issue is gathering international attention and we hope to expand operations together with SPNL in the coming years to increase both education, enforcement and awareness of the severity of illegal poaching.

“Our aim is to collect data on the bird migration over the Lebanon with a special focus on the influence of illegal hunting on different bird species, especially storks and birds of prey”, SPNL´s CEO Assad Serhal said adding that all acts of poaching observed by the teams will be reported to the police and the Ministry of the Environment in Beirut. Our operations are also supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Lebanese Ministry of Environment, the Special Advisor to President Michel Aoun, Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukoz, Bioland Lebanon.