Lebanon’s hunting laws were repeatedly and blatantly violated over the weekend, environmental NGO Green Area said in a statement released Monday.
Video surfaced over the weekend appearing to show migratory birds being shot down by automatic gunfire in Dinnieh, northern Lebanon, which the NGO termed “a scandal … in violation of all laws prohibiting the use of military weapons.”
“The video not only documented violations of bird and animal hunting laws, it also contravenes the authority of the state at a time when activists, experts and hunters are organizing to suppress over-hunting, [amidst] massacres of all types of birds,” the statement said. “This video confirms the disregard of our moral and human responsibilities.”
Green Area’s statement called on the Environment Ministry to act quickly to arrest those who “are certainly criminals and not just hunters,” saying that the perpetrators were endangering both human and animal life by shooting rapid-fire weapons near residential areas.
“We are witnessing a number of unacceptable violations in various areas of Lebanon. This example is not an exception, but an abnormal situation that requires action by the Environment Ministry and the highest authority in the country,” the statement concluded.
Pictures also circulated on social media over the weekend in which hunters showed off their prizes, displaying freshly killed protected bird species. These images prompted outrage from activists, including international anti-poaching NGO the Committee Against Bird Slaughter.
“Although there are now reports of some poacher arrests being made by the Internal Security Forces, clearly the problem is still completely out of hand,” a CABS statement said.
Among the birds killed were European bee-eaters, hoopoes, honey buzzards, sparrow-hawks, owls and blackcaps – all of which are protected under Lebanese law.
Lebanon’s 2017 hunting season began on Sept. 15 and will end in January, based on new regulations for hunters that were announced by Environment Minister Tarek Khatib in April.
Since before the hunting season even began, however, flagrant breaches of the law have been perpetrated with little response from authorities.