The hunter's guide to Mediterranean migrants
Hunting migratory birds is a culturally and economically important activity in the North African and Middle Eastern countries bordering the Mediterranean. BirdLife International and its Partners in the region have just completed the three-year Sustainable Hunting Project to strengthen the management of bird hunting, reduce excessive, indiscriminate and illegal hunting of migratory birds, and enhance compliance with international and regional agreements on migratory bird conservation.
The Society of the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL, BirdLife in Lebanon) and Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO, BirdLife in Tunisia) were chosen as the focal national Partrners in North Africa and in the Middle East, to demonstrate the range of activities which could be replicated in other countries.
Eight national reports on migratory bird hunting were produced, providing the first baseline information on hunting in many of the project countries. Regional “synthesis reports” covered key topics, including hunting practices, policy and legislation, hunting management, the religious, cultural and socioeconomic significance of migratory bird hunting, and alternative economic models. Two further reports looked at regional compliance with international conventions and agreements, and the use of lead shot.
“Hunters think that migratory birds have large population sizes and contribute no value to the ecosystem" —Bassima Khatib, SPNL Assistant Director General
“Hunters think that migratory birds have large populations and contribute no value to the ecosystem, thus migratory species are more vulnerable to hunting than local species”, said SPNL Assistant Director General Bassima Khatib.
The project developed a comprehensive set of guidelines for politicians and decision makers, and a Code of Practice for Responsible Hunting of Migratory Birds for hunters, published in English and Arabic. AAO worked with the national federation of hunters’ associations to include the Code of Practice in a guide in pocket format, which is issued to all registered hunters and law enforcement bodies in Tunisia.
There was a special focus on school-age children, to educate the next generation of hunters. SPNL produced a comprehensive educational programme for school children, which included full interactive resources for teachers. During the spring migration 2007, AAO launched a project targeting young people involved in the trapping of thousands of migratory birds in the oases of South Tunisia.
Governments in the region have agreed to strengthen national compliance with relevant international agreements and conventions. Lasting partnerships have been established between governments, hunters’ organisations and conservation NGOs, ensuring that progress on sustainable hunting will continue even though the project has come to an end.
“The achievements of the Sustainable Hunting Project will be used as tools to build on in future flyway regional projects in the region" —Jonathan Barnard, BirdLife International
“The project has resulted in a true exchange between the hunters and our association, and the two partners have agreed to fight together against poaching and unsustainable hunting”, said Claudia Feltrup-Azafzaf, AAO’s Director of Projects. “It is now most important to maintain this exchange, to develop the ideas which germinated during the project and to ensure long-term awareness-raising and training programmes for hunters and the wider public.”
“The achievements of the Sustainable Hunting Project will be used as tools to build on in future flyway regional projects in the region, such as the Soaring Bird and Wings Over Wetlands projects”, said SPNL’s Bassima Khatib.
Jonathan Barnard, BirdLife’s Programmes and Projects manager, said: “The project has provided a platform at both regional and national levels for continuing to improve the management of bird hunting in the region, and to promote more sustainable hunting practices. Ultimately this leads to a safer migration, and a better future, for birds using these routes.”
The project was funded by the European Union’s LIFE – Third Countries Fund