(Luca Bonaccorsi; 5 April 2017)
Lebanon’s President, Michel Aoun, has made a heartfelt pledge to prevent the annual slaughter of the thousands of migratory birds who fly over the small Middle Eastern state twice a year.
Dozens of storks lie dead on the ground, neatly lined up. Behind them, the men smile at the camera, holding up by their long, silent beaks yet more dead birds. It’s been a good hunt, one worthy of sharing with friends on Twitter or Facebook.
Welcome to Lebanon, where hundreds of such macabre photos offer testimony to what conservationists have been denouncing for years. The little Mediterranean state is a black hole where some 2.6 million birds disappear every year, shot or trapped illegally.
The wealth and diversity of birds packed into this relatively small country (at least 399 species of birds have been recorded here), is the pride and joy of local people, and a massive concern for local conservationists, such as those who work at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (BirdLife Partner).
The country lies on the west side of the African Eurasian Flyway (Red Sea – Rift Valley Flyway) which is considered one of the most important flyways in the world for bird migration. The long perilous journey from Europe and Asia to Africa, via the Sinai and the Red Sea, ends here, in this small stretch of land, for million of birds. In terms of “intensity”- birds killed per square kilometre – Lebanon ranks third, trailing only Malta and Cyprus.
But Lebanon’s days as a high-flyer in the chart no-one wants to top could be numbered, because a new, bird-friendly era has been announced…………