The estimated number of illegally killed birds in Lebanon is more than 2,600,000 annually.

Each spring, hundreds of thousands of White Storks and other birds migrate north into continental Europe and Western Asia where they breed.

The eastern flyway avoids a long sea crossing of the Mediterranean and is by far the most significant route for these birds, with 530,000 white storks using it each year.

Thus, making the species the second commonest large migratory species there (after the European Honey Buzzard). The spring migration is a true spectacle of nature, but unfortunately many birds are callously shot from the sky by poachers.

The images provided were taken in spring 2017 are from Association for Bird Conservation in Lebanon and give a glimpse of the situation.

Some Lebanese hunters and a terrible loss of wildlife

Several countries on the Mediterranean are famous for mass killing of migratory as resident birds. Lebanon is no exception and perhaps one of the worst culpits.

This seems to continue almost unabated despite attempts on international level to change the attitude of the population.

In Lebanon, these migrations of birds have sustained the growth of a widespread hunting industry that has remained largely unregulated for decades.

Excessive and unlawful hunting practices make the country one of the most dangerous areas for traveling birds that often journey thousands of miles to roost and mate.

These include endangered species, which are among the estimated 2.6 million birds that are shot or illegally trapped in Lebanon on a yearly basis.

Everything that moves will be shot, including these two pelicans

Meinertzhagen (1935) stated: ‘When I last visited this country (Lebanon) in 1920, the gardens were full of birds. Now (1933) they all disappeared, exterminated by the local hunters and eaten ‘.

He might have noticed that Lebanon was still busy in 1920 to wrestle away from 400 years of domination by the Ottomans

By 1933 Lebanon was under French mandate and French influence. Hooves we have more to say? Traditionally fond of rifles, the Lebanese plunged themselves to full surrender to the hunt.

During the time that the birds migrate, cars full of hunters drive along the mountain roads or are lined up. Ready to shoot all what moves within their distance.

Along the east-west roads, every twenty meter stands a hunter, who fires on every bird silhouette that flies over him. This sport is practiced by everyone, from rich to poor. Still mainly by the Christian Lebanese.

A recent example of irresponsible behavior by the Lebanese took place in spring some years ago.

Several troops of Storks flew low over Beirut and because of the unusual wind, they took a route between the apartment buildings, instead of the usual northern route through it to follow inland.

A Lebanese hunter with a boat full of dead flamingo’s

The hunters of Beirut shot them from the streets, the balconies and the roofs.

The slaughter was so terrible that the Ambassador of an Eastern European country sent a complaint to the Lebanese President about the killing of this beloved breeding bird.

Normalised in society, illegal shooting and trapping has become an extremely popular pastime in Lebanon.

As a result, the mean estimated number of illegally killed wild birds in Lebanon is more than 2,600,000 annually.

The estimated mean number of individual birds killed illegally is 248 per square kilometre each year. There are 327 species of bird occurring regularly in Lebanon, with around 59% of these being killed illegally in significant numbers.


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