The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) and the Mainstreaming conservation of migratory soaring birds project (MSB), implement by the UNDP in the Ministry of Environment, urged to stop unlicensed hunting in Lebanon.
SPNL director Assad Serhal affirmed that nothing can justify the killing of migratory birds by announcing that they were carrying spying devices, especially that the Lebanese Army, did not confirm the authenticity of these reports carried by many media outlets without any scientific scrutiny.
Serhal pointed out that SPNL received a letter from the Director of Wildlife Society in Palestine Dr. Imad Atrash, stating that the bird was caught in Achkout- Kaza Kesserwan is Bonelli’s eagle which used to live in Mount Carmel in northern Palestine.
Headlines of birds accused of spying are making rounds again in Middle Eastern press, with the most recent bird of espionage ‘arrested’ in Lebanon.
Lebanese media reported that an “Israeli spy eagle” had been caught this past weekend in Lebanon. According to one Lebanese news site, the eagle had been caught in the town of Achkout by local hunters who alerted authorities after discovering that the bird had an ID ring attached to its leg with the words “Israel” and “Tel Aviv University” printed on it. The Lebanese media claimed that the eagle was one of many birds sent by Israel to spy and gather information via GPS transmitters across the Middle East. The report pointed to the “arrest of birds carrying similar devices” in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and most recently in Egypt.
Serhal pointed out that GPS transmitters used in many specialized research centers in order to monitor wildlife endangered birds and learn patterns of living and breeding areas and migration paths. He pointed out that the Bonelli’s eagle is one of thousands of birds which fall victim to unlicensed hunting in Lebanon, which have nothing to do with spying.
The director of MSB project Saleem Hamadeh announced that the hunters who are killing migratory birds are breaking the “Hunting Ban” issued by the Lebanese Council of Ministers in 1994 and is still in effect to this day. Hamadeh pointed that the hunting season in Lebanon will be opened officially after the acquisition of legally binding licenses and certificates.
“Lebanese hunters are also violating many international conventions that require Lebanon to protect migratory birds, and we consider the publication of photographs of endangered birds after hunting should be investigated by public prosecution” Hamadeh added.
Ghassan Ramadan Jaradi, one of the Lebanese bird researchers who identified the eagle told spnl.org that he was “fed up” with the eagle ‘spy’ accusations.
“Scientists often tag birds in the study of ornithology in order to keep track of the migration routes and journeys that birds make. At least 500 millions birds pass through Middle east every year during spring and autumn on migratory routes”. Jaradi added
The Bonelli’s eagle is found along the Mediterranean coast, from the Iberian Peninsula to Iran, as well as on the Indian sub-continent and in southern China and Indonesia. Today, its total population is estimated at fewer than 40,000 pairs. Approximately 1,000 pairs live in Europe, with Spain remaining something of a stronghold for the species, counting almost 700 pairs. In France, there were just 29 reproducing pairs in 2009, which is very few and makes it the country’s most threatened species.