A Conference in Lebanon Highlights the Need to Regulate Hunting of Migratory Birds

Bonn, 10 March 2017 – Lebanon is a country of extraordinary importance for migratory birds since it lies at the heart of the Rift Valley-Red Sea Flyway on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Every year thousands of birds migrate across Lebanon during the autumn season towards their wintering grounds in Africa and return in the spring time to their breeding areas in Eurasia. These birds are mainly waterbirds, raptors and songbirds. Among them there are several globally threatened species such as the Dalmatian Pelican, Greater Spotted Eagle, Imperial Eagle, White-tailed Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, Pallid Harrier and Lesser Kestrel. Great numbers of White Storks and Lesser-spotted Eagles also overfly Lebanon during their migration.

But the conservation situation in the country is far from being good and there are high levels of illegal and unsustainable shooting of this natural heritage. According to BirdLife International every year there are an estimated 2.3 million birds which are illegally hunted or trapped in Lebanon. A hunting law has been in place since 2004 but it is not being implemented and an official hunting season has not been opened for years. That means that all hunting activity is currently illegal and uncontrolled. The Ministry of Environment is aware of this and is working to establish a licensing system and increase surveillance on the ground.

In view of this, the Green Committee of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik organized a Conference on Sustainable Hunting on 23 February 2017 at its campus in Beirut. Among the speakers was Mr Toni Issa, a popular Lebanese actor and hunter; Ms Lara Samaha, Head of the Department of Ecosystems at the Ministry of Environment; Mr Nazih Abi Semaan, CEO of Josons, a company specialized in hunting equipment; Dr Samar Azzi Achkouty, Chair of the Green Committee; and Rev Talal Hachem, USEK Vice-President for Community Life.

The CMS Secretariat gave a presentation about the Task Force on illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds in the Mediterranean and the activities that are being undertaken in other countries to address the issue. Lebanon is a member of AEWA and the Raptors MOU but it is not a Party to CMS yet. The Conference provided a good opportunity to promote accession and to discuss measures to curb illegal hunting. The cooperation of NGOs and hunting clubs will be paramount to improve conditions. Lebanon will participate in the next meeting of the Task Force to be held in Malta in June 2017.

In the margins of the Conference, the Polish Ambassador to Lebanon stressed the need to protect the White Storks that fly across Lebanon on their journey from Europe to Africa. Under a genuine flyway approach, he said that countries have to enact conservation measures along all the migratory route and it is unacceptable that birds that are being protected in one country are illegally shot in another. Poland is making a great effort to protect the White Stork and it expects other countries in the flyway to do the same.

For more information please contact Mr Borja Heredia at borja.heredia@cms.int

Last updated on 10 March 2017