After issuing two written editions and then converting it to an electronic magazine, spnl.org met with Adonis Khatib, owner of “Sayd” Magazine to get acquainted with this shift in the magazine and on the discourse adopted in dealing with the bird hunters for the protection of nature and the environment.
1 – It’s a new and remarkable experience in the Arab world, whereby a magazine talks about the protection of nature and holds a title of “Sayd” (Hunting). How do you explain that?
The people of our country got used to the idea that hunters and environmentalists are enemies due to conflicting goals, but this view is incorrect. It is known that the most famous hunters worldwide are those who founded nature reserves for the protection of birds and animals for the shrinking number of birds reflects negatively on his/her hobby. Hence, this confirms that the goals are not conflicting between the hunters and the environmentalists who both want the survival of the birds.
We raised the slogan of hunting to address the hunters in their own language to be side by side with the protectors of the bird species. In addition, hunters are addressed to hunt only game bird species, and enjoy watching of migratory soaring birds. In another context, we always aim to differentiate between the word “hunter” and “shooter”, and we believe that this has a magical effect on hunters because it places the hunters in face of the shooters who kill birds ignorantly, indiscriminately, and badly affect the hobby of hunting. Moreover, environmentalists and hunters got used to a hostile language of communication between both due to the ignorance of both and negative accumulations over the years. This would not benefit at all.
2 – Do you think you have achieved something regarding this matter?
Of course, the first achievement we did was partnering with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), this NGO was the only NGO in Lebanon that understood what we are doing, spoke the same language, and are achieving effective outcomes. Also, many hunters and environmentalists around us have started speaking the same language and are convinced that a hunter is an environmentalist, and a shooter causes the devastation of nature and the hunting hobby as a whole.
Today we have undergone joint ventures with SPNL, and we are receiving positive reactions from the hunters who were looking for a spot that keeps them away from the shooters and absurd accusations.
3 – Why do you address the hunters on your website in Arabic instead of English, which is a universal language?
The first step to success is to address your desired population in their language and in their own expressions. It is widely known that the hunters have their own language of expressions, customs and traditions and if I talk to them in a language that is considered foreign to him/her you deem this communication with failure.
However, the website will be based on three languages Arabic, English, and French and we are in the process of launching the website in this way at the earliest opportunity where I receive support, because I’m doing so alone and on limited resources.
4 – How did it start between you and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon- SPNL?
Communications between us started after I was invited by a friend, who knew SPNL, to participate in a workshop hosted by the NGO in Beirut lectured by foreign and Arab hunters who founded nature reserves in their countries. There I met the Director General of SPNL, Dr. Assad Serhal, who read the headlines of our magazine and asked me to talk about it and our work in this regard during the workshop. Fortunately, my speech was appreciated and everyone asserted that this language is an effective language that is not based on accusation and insults exchanged between the hunters and the environmentalists.
After that, our relationship became stronger which led to the invitation by Asaad to another workshop for BirdLife International in Jordan last year, which aimed at finding a formula for communication between people to protect the environment. During the workshop I have talked about our experience and everyone considered it a worthwhile experience because it broke the barrier of hostility between the hunters and the environmentalists and led to an effective and friendly dialogue. Thus, we continued to work with SPNL, and here we are today achieving important outcomes in Lebanon concerning the organization of the hunting sector to protect the environment. Our efforts became more efficient with the help of many hunters who are aiding us in raising awareness. The latest of the achievements was with the announcement of Hima El Fekha in the Bekaa Valley for sustainable hunting and grazing in partnership with the municipality of El Fekha, and this practically means defining certain areas for hunting in order to protect other areas in Lebanon.
5 – What are your plans for the website?
We developed a competition regarding the new hunting exam which is gradually showing its results. This competition will help the hunters on the exam itself by testing his/her knowledge before the real exam (which is the responsibility of the government and the shooting clubs accredited by the Ministry of Environment). In our opinion, this will further help in raising awareness through competition and stimulate the ability to excel which is usually sought by the hunters.
I would like to point out, that I believe that the ‘Sayd” website has created a new kind of journalism that is the journalism of adventures and the environment because it is based on solid scientific information.
6 – A final word:
Thank you for your interest, and I am certain that this language of communication can accomplish great achievements. The biggest proof for that is the interview we did with the British ornithologist (Bird expert) Richard Porter. Many hunters praised the interview for he said “The hunters and I both need the birds, they for hunting and I for watching”, thus Porter became their friend because of this one word.