In the last few days, there have been several reports of illegal massacres of migrant and locally breeding birds. These shooting incidents have been recorded from the north to the south of Lebanon and many places in-between.
Further to the fact that the hunting season is closed, many of the species being killed are not legal game species. Many of them are protected by international commitments, that Lebanon is currently failing to meet and numerous species killed are of global conservation significance.
Specifically, there have been reports of:
Migrating white storks have been killed in several spots (Ebel el Saqi & Marjayoun region– South Lebanon). Illegal hunting is taking place (nearby officers) on a daily basis in Maghdouche with the use of calling machines to attract birds from neighboring villages.
Raptors are regularly shot in the Donnieh region of North Lebanon (Beit aoukar, Terbol, Kfarhabou, Hilan…)
There are other illegal shooting incidents reported up and down the country on a daily basis. The so called hunters target all types of bird, including; species breeding in Lebanon (Chukar, shrikes…) migrants to Eurasia (European Bee-eaters, Swallows, Blackcaps, Eurasian Golden Orioles…).
It should not be forgotten that the problem is not just shooting. Many birds are caught using traps and nets for sale to the pet trade (Goldfinches, Bulbuls, Chukar…) or for the meat trade (Quails, Blackcaps…)
It is obvious to the Internal Security forces and other authorities that these violations are occurring. The gunshots and the sound of electronic and calling machines can be heard from considerable distances. Some of the locations listed above are hunting black-spots that activists repeatedly report to the authorities. However, even though problems were properly reported, activists working in the field did not see a single anti-poaching patrol during the spring migration.
It is worth mentioning that many hunters and responsible hunting groups respect the hunting law and educate others in order to protect the birds and the future of their hobby.
The hunting law itself is very clear, what seems to be lacking is enforcement to back it up. The ISF could do more to demonstrate how they are effectively catching and prosecuting these people. We feel that through some simple measures, carried out with dedication, the appropriate authorities can start to bring this problem under control.