In the land of the cedar, having feathers is not a good thing. Every year, masses of migratory birds – more than 250 species – stop over in Lebanon, and especially in the Bekaa Plain. For many, it is a journey’s end : they end up riddled with lead pellets. Men lie in wait, eying them through their sights.
« The hunting is chaotic, no one abides by the law », regrets Pascal Abdallah, who works with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL). « From the age of eight onwards, children go hunting with their parents. People drive everywhere in their 4WDs, damaging everything and leaving their empty cartridges behind ».
Any feather creature – protected or not – is a target, from swan to flycatcher.
To fight these ravages, the SPNL is working hard to create Himas, nature reserves managed with help from local communities. This traditional millennial-old approach is generally better accepted by the population. It leaves the door open to certain human activities, such as ecotourism, and does not preclude regulated hunting.
Patiently, the SPNL is managing sensibilities and raising young people’s awareness so as to help change mentalities. Slowly, but surely.
Article published in the magazine « Terre Sauvage », n°300, January 2014, page 88.