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Africa
7 Jul 2017

United to stop illegal killing and trading of migratory wild birds in North Africa

European goldfinch: The species has become rarer in the Magreb over the past 30 years ©Lumoxg3, Flickr
European goldfinch: The species has become rarer in the Magreb over the past 30 years ©Lumoxg3, Flickr
By Alex Ngari

Revealing scientific reports about the complexity of strategies employed by poachers and a cross-border trade scheme in the north African countries of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria show that these activities have contributed to serious shrinkage of specie range of the beautiful European goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis), which is often targeted by hunters.

On 22 June 2017, BirdLife International experts joined more than 80 people representing governments, civil society organisations the convention on migratory species and a network of experts working to stop illegal killing, trapping and trade in wild birds met for two days in Sliema, the Republic of Malta, to press for the eradication of these threats which have been termed Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Wild Birds (IKB).

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and African-Eurasian Migratory Landbirds Action Plan (AEMLAP) identifies taking and trade of migratory landbirds in the flyway as one of the main threats in the region.

“Man must continually evaluate his existing relationship with nature. There are many changes that have taken place within our environment and the human behaviour such as birds hunting must also change for nature to continue supporting human life,” stressed Dr. Olivier Biber, member of the AEMLAP working group, who participated in the meeting.

During the meeting, participants discussed a review by Birdlife International, on the IKB concern in the Mediterranean that was published in 2016 and acknowledged that the results from the review have catalysed government efforts either directly or indirectly to address this problem, which also affects many migratory landbirds. BirdLife also presented preliminary results for European IKB review, and indicated that a similar review is being undertaken for Iran, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula.

As commitment to end this problem, participants agreed to have a scoreboard as a tool that governments would use to assess and grade progress of all European and Mediterranean countries towards ending illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory wild birds. A revised version of this scoreboard would be produced ahead of a CMS scientific council meeting in the German city of Bonn from 10 to 13 July. It shall also be presented for noting or adoption at the 12th CMS Conference of Parties, scheduled for 22 to 28 October 2017, in Manila, Philippines.

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Apart from using the scoreboard as a supportive tool to allow governments to assess the results of their efforts in addressing the IKB problem, it was also unanimously agreed that welcoming other stakeholders to populate this tool would be a more participatory approach that adds value to it.

The Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) responded by forming an Intergovernmental Task Force on Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT) region. Several governments have also developed national strategies or action plans to tackle the problem at country level.

This outcome gave optimism that continued push by the governments and stakeholders will yield important results beneficial to AEMLAP species many of which are heavily affected by the IKB.

This meeting was hosted and chaired by the Maltese government, with Lebanon as the vice Chair and was attended by over 80 participants from 24 countries in Europe, 17 of which are EU member states and the Mediterranean, European Commission, 29 observer organisations that included NGOs, enforcement groups and networks and scientific organisations.