INTERNATIONAL TEAM WITNESS MASSACRE OF PROTECTED BIRDS IN LEBANON 7 September 2017, Lebanon.
Over the last two days the international team of ‘Bird Guards’ (1) from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) witnessed the shooting down of over 70 protected birds of prey and discovered 25 dead protected birds on Mount Lebanon near Beirut. An injured Marsh Harrier shot on the wing was also found by the conservationists.
This is the first time an international team of bird conservationists together with local pro regulation hunters and birdwatchers are carrying out antipoaching operations in the Lebanon. CABS and SPNL teams joined by responsible hunters from the Middle East Sustainable Hunting Centre were met by a barrage of shots by illegal shooters in Aghbeh near Beirut. They found 16 freshly killed Honey Buzzards, a dead Marsh Harrier as well as one an injured Marsh Harrier on Wednesday morning.
The Lebanese Internal Security Forces which were informed arrived at the scene within an hour and took details of the crime scene and evidence presented by CABS and SPNL team members. The injured Marsh Harrier was taken to a veterinary and was subsequently put down due to severe shotgun injuries.
When the team returned to the same area on Thursday morning which coincided with a strong raptor migration, they witnessed the shooting down of over 50 Honey Buzzards in just less than two hours early morning. Six freshly killed buzzards were also found in the area. Footage of the massacre will be uploaded on the CABS YouTube channel this afternoon (3) CABS Operations officer Axel Hirschfeld who was with the team that found the dead and injured birds said:
“These are migrating birds that were coming from Europe and Asia and flying to their wintering grounds in Africa but their journeys have unfortunately ended due to irresponsible Lebanese shooters. We witnessed such a massacre in just a small area over a few hours during the closed hunting season. We cannot imagine how many thousands if not millions of protected birds are killed each year in Lebanon.”
Marsh Harriers and Honey Buzzards are both species of international conservation concern whose populations have suffered severe declines over the last 20 years. Indiscriminate illegal killing and trapping is thought to be one of the main factors behind the decline of many migratory bird species in Lebanon. Shooting of any birds is not allowed at the moment and the official hunting season will open on the 15th of September.
“We are very grateful for the support of responsible hunters who are disturbed with the ongoing slaughter of migratory birds that damages Lebanon’s reputation. We are convinced that our joint efforts with the responsible hunters if supported by the law enforcement units can make Lebanon a safer flyway for the migratory birds in the future”
concluded Mr. Hirschfeld.
The Lebanon lies on the main eastern flyway for the migratory birds between Europe and Africa. Recent studies show that between two and three million protected birds are shot or trapped each year in the Lebanon (2). Concluding Comment from SPNL Director Assad Serhal
Notes for the Editors:
1) Ornithologists and hunting experts from France, Turkey, Germany, Italy and the UK have joined Lebanese conservationists and responsible hunters to monitor bird migration and illegal hunting in the Lebanese countryside this September. Operation ‘Safe Haven’ is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Lebanese Ministry of Environment, the Special Advisor to President Michel Aoun, Mrs. Claudine Aoun Roukoz
2) “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 kilometer each year. There are 327 species of bird occurring regularly in Lebanon, with around 59% of these being killed illegally in significant numbers.” – http://www.spnl.org/new-scientific-report-reveals-2-6-million-birds-illegally-slaughtered-in-lebanon-every-year/
Contact CABS: Axel Hirschfeld (Operations & Press Officer), Tel.: 0049 1794803805, Email: email@example.com
Contact SPNL: Assad Serhal (SPNL director), Tel.: 00961 3349812, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org