Shooters and birdwatchers have come together to try to stop the slaughter of dozens of birds of prey in Lebanon. Calling themselves the ‘bird guards’, an international team of bird conservationists teamed up with local pro regulation hunters and birdwatchers to carry out anti-poaching operations.
They witnessed the shooting of more than 100 protected birds of prey, including marsh harriers and honey buzzards, and discovered 25 dead protected birds on Mount Lebanon near Beirut. CABS Operations officer Axel Hirschfeld, who was with the team that found the dead and injured birds, says:
“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.
Illegal killing, trapping and poaching is thought to be one of the main factors behind the decline of many migratory bird species in Lebanon.
Lebanon recently legalised regulated bird shooting as a way of cracking down on the estimated 2.6 million migrating birds killed illegally every year in the country.