By Stuart Butchart, Fri, 04/03/2016 - 11:35
Scientists from BirdLife International estimate that 20 locations in the
may be responsible for eight million individual birds being illegally killed or
taken alive each year.
In the paper Preliminary assessment of the scope and scale of illegal killing and taking of birds in the Mediterranean published this week in the scientific journal Bird Conservation International, the authors present a detailed analysis of how many birds and of which species are impacted, where the 20 worst locations are and why different species are targeted in each country. The report was previewed in the BirdLife review The Killing, published in August last year.
“We were shocked to discover that 25 million individuals of over 450 species are estimated to be illegally killed or taken alive in the Mediterranean region per year, mainly for food (to be eaten as a delicacy or sold for profit), sport and for use as cage birds or hunting decoys,” Dr Anne-Laure Brochet, lead author of the report, said. “Importantly, eight million birds are estimated to be killed or taken at just 20 locations. Given the uncertainty around these numbers because of the difficulty in documenting illegal activities, the total could be anywhere from five to 11 million.”
These 20 places are found in just four countries:
Cyprus, Egypt, Lebanon
They include the Syria Famagusta area of Cyprus, where 400,000-1 million individual birds
are illegally killed or taken each year, and the El Manzala area of , where
30,000-1.1 million individuals birds are illegally killed or taken each year. Egypt
The highest estimates of birds illegally killed or taken in the Mediterranean region were for Italy (3-8 million birds), Egypt (300,000-11 million) and Syria (3-5 million), while the density of illegal killing/taking was highest in Malta (18-667 birds per year per sq km), Cyprus (146-351 birds per sq km) and Lebanon (161-335 birds per sq km).
“It was disturbing to find that despite the positive impact of EU legislation, half of the top 10 countries with the highest levels of illegal killing are Member States of the EU. This indicates the need for greater effort to ensure that the EU Birds Directive is fully implemented at national level,” said Willem Van den Bossche, co-author of the paper and Flyway Conservation Officer for Europe and
Asia at BirdLife Europe.
The birds affected by illegal killing include the Blackcap (1.2-2.4 million individuals per year), European Turtle-dove (300,000-900,000 individuals per year) and Song Thrush (700,000-1.8 million individuals per year), among many others.