Siberian gull (Larus heuglini)

Stop illegal seagulls killing in Lebanon

Lebanese environmental groups condemned the hunting of seagull off Beirut’s southern shores, near the Rafik Hariri International Airport.

Our birds deserve safer flyways. To tackle these threats, conservation efforts need to be scaled up at the worst locations we have identified, coupled with effective and well-coordinated local, regional and national advocacy.

Images and a video have circulated online showing what is believed to be hunters killing seagulls in the Costa Brava area.

The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL, BirdLife in Lebanon) among many other environmental groups warned that the seagulls are protected by international treaties, most prominent the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) 1999, which Lebanon is a part of. The treaty, which covers 254 species, is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds. In addition to violating the Convention for Protection of the Mediterranean Sea against Pollution (Barcelona Convention).

SPNL asks Lebanese authorities to Stop mindless tyranny aimed at innocent seagulls.

Please help support Save the Seagull, add a #Twibbon now! 

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Irresponsible illegal killing and trapping in Lebanon is thought to be one of the main factors behind the decline of many migratory bird species in Lebanon. The Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL, BirdLife in Lebanon) and its partners have been tasked by the government with the responsibility of setting the scene for the implementation of the new hunting law.

Hunting has been banned in Lebanon since the mid-1990s, but recreational hunting regularly takes place throughout the year, mainly in the Bekaa Valley and in the North.

The country is home to about 400 species, including 260 migratory birds. Every year, millions of birds pass through the area, sometimes to reproduce.

At least 15 of these species are threatened with extinction, including the pygmy cormorant, which is rapidly losing it’s breeding ground thanks to over-development and over-hunting.

It’s unclear who benefits from the hunting ban, or why it was introduced in the first place. A 2004 law introduced hunting regulations, including permitting the hunting of game species, but was never enforced after being ratified by Parliament.

The gull hunting was sparked by a civil aviation safety threat posed by the birds. They are believed to be attracted by the waste stored in the Costa Brava landfill next to the airport and Ghadir Rivers estuary.

A Lebanese judge ordered the closure of the landfill over airport safety concerns. However, ministries have been pushing for a judicial order to reverse the ruling.

Ministries and the concerned parties began working on resolving the issue and agreed on a series of measures to ensure the safety of flights in and out of Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport. The issue has prompted critics to raised questions as to whether officials had known locating a landfill near the airport was potentially dangerous.

SPNL considers that the “right solution would be by eradicating the causes attracting the birds and the closure of the Costa Brava landfill.”

SPNL demanded the state to set up a clear and comprehensive policy to resolve the ongoing garbage problem.

Lebanese Ministry of Environment signed in 2015 a memorandum of understanding to protect migratory birds, explaining that the move will help protect 37 species.

Lebanon has come under heavy criticism from international conversation organizations over indiscriminate hunting of migratory birds, with its position on the pathway for threatened species migrating between Europe and Africa putting it in an increasingly spotlight over the issue.

Lebanon is a strategic location for migratory birds. Unfortunately, widespread problems with the illegal killing of birds exist across the country.

Normalised in society, illegal shooting and trapping has become an extremely popular pastime in Lebanon. As a result, the mean estimated number of illegally killed birds in Lebanon is more than 2,600,000 annually. The estimated mean number of individual birds killed illegally is 248 per square kilometre each year. There are 327 species of bird occurring regularly in Lebanon, with around 59% of these being killed illegally in significant numbers.

A law on hunting was finally agreed on in 2004 after years of delays, although it was more than a decade before application decrees were then announced in 2012. As a result of the unclear legal situation, amateur shooters lacking the skills of those more experienced hunters are illegally killing birds across the country.

In fact, an estimated 400 people die each year due to their lack of expertise. New methods for mass killing of birds are being used in the country, such as song playback devices, mist-nets and bright lights at night to attract birds into traps. Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix), Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra) and Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) are killed in large numbers.

BirdLife International is on the frontline of the battle against illegal bird killing and we need you to join us today. 

In 2015 we published the first scientific study to quantify the true extent of the killing throughout the Mediterranean region. The horrific headline of The Killing Report was that more than 25 million birds are illegally slaughtered there each year. 

With the help of thousands of loyal supporters, we have already secured some of the vital funds necessary to tackle illegal killing in key hotspots that the report identified. Work is already underway in the Famagusta area in Cyprus, the Menbej-Tishreen Dam area in Syria and the El Manzala area in Egypt. Staggeringly, in each of these places, more than half a million birds are being illegally slaughtered every year. 

Our birds deserve safer flyways. To tackle these threats, conservation efforts need to be scaled up at the worst locations we have identified, coupled with effective and well-coordinated local, regional and national advocacy.

We know the extent of the problem. We are taking action already. But we need to increase the pressure now. Please join us. We are the power of many and together we can stop illegal bird killing – forever.

Explore our story map to find out the motivations, methods and countries where illegal killing occurs.

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