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Spate of illegal bird killing in Egypt unveiled

A new study has revealed that over 75% of bird killing and trapping in Egypt is illegal. BirdLife International releases new data on Mediterranean hotspot for illegal bird killing, and shows graphic video on killing methods.

Migratory birds
Migratory birds

Nature Conservation Egypt (BirdLife in Egypt) and the BirdLife International Secretariat on Tuesday, 10 May, 2016 released a study on the socio-economic drivers of hunting and trapping practices in Egypt.

With an estimated six million birds killed and trapped illegally every year, Egypt is said to be one of the most dangerous places for migratory birds in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy and Lebanon. BirdLife International has also released a video to document the Mediterranean massacre that has reached over two million people in 48 hours.

Tuesday, 10 May is World Migratory Bird Day, and this year is focused on the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds. According to scientists, migratory birds are declining in large numbers. On the African-Eurasian migratory flyway one in 10 migratory bird species are said to be threatened with global extinction.

The new study’s main findings:

  • There are three “hunter profiles”: Commercial hunters motivated by the economic value of bird selling; subsistence hunters who hunt for securing source of protein; and recreational hunters;
  • Almost 50% are fishermen and live in families with more than 4 members. But almost 20% are public-sector employees;
  • At least 75% of hunting observed is illegal and bird hunting has significant socioeconomic importance to the local communities along the coast;
  • Almost all hunters use illegal fine ‘trammel’ nets (100%) and call devices (85%) knowing these are illegal;
  • Only 7% keep the birds for personal consumption. Most of the birds are sold to the market;
  • Almost all hunters target quails and doves. Nearly 80% target also songbirds;
  • Education: nearly 2/3 of hunters interviewed had either primary or no education;
  • Over 50% of the hunters derive 50% or more of their income from the activity, with 21% earning more than 75%.

Dr. Salwa Elhalawani, author of the study for Nature Conservation Egypt, states: “The study sheds light on the magnitude of the illegality of hunting along the Mediterranean cost of Egypt. But, most importantly, we have profiled hunters and mapped their socio-economic background, so we can recommend mechanisms to help them, as well as the birds, in the future.”

Noor A.Noor, Executive Coordinator at Nature Conservation Egypt, adds: “The socioeconomic study provides much needed context for all scientific research taking place by the Responsible Hunting Programme. By deepening our understanding of the human factors behind illegal killing and trapping, we increase our chances of taking suitable measures, in coordination with local communities, to promote sustainable practices.”

Claire Thompson, Conservation expert at BirdLife International, discloses: “Egypt is situated on important migration routes for birds travelling between their breeding grounds in Eurasia and their wintering sites in Africa. Studies such as these enable BirdLife Partners to push for a more strategic and holistic approach to eliminating illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean region.”

The study contains a detailed list of recommendations to address the illegal killing of birds.

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