Birdlife partners join forces to stop illegal bird killing in the Mediterranean

Untold millions of migrating birds are killed illegally during spring and autumn migation through the Mediterranean. Photo: Bert Willeart.
Untold millions of migrating birds are killed illegally during spring and autumn migation through the Mediterranean. Photo: Bert Willeart.
A new BirdLife campaign is up and running, helping to explain the importance of migration and stop illegal hunting in southern Europe.

For migratory birds, illegal killing is an additional threat to their already dangerous and challenging journey. The EU Bird Directive protects the millions of birds who travel between their nesting and wintering grounds twice every year, by stating that only a few species can be hunted under certain conditions of timing and methods. In the Mediterranean, violations of EU legislation are particularly widespread, exacerbating the substantial decrease in migratory bird populations over the past 40 years.

BirdLife Partners in Italy (LIPU), Greece (HOS) and Spain (SEO) decided that coordinated actions and a common approach are required to address the problem, and have created the joint 'Safe Haven for Wild Birds' LIFE + project. The project aims at changing the attitude of local communities in three migratory blackspots: Sulcis (south-west Sardinia, Italy), Ionian Islands (western Greece), and the South and East of Spain (Catalonia, Valencia and south-east Aragon).

In all these places illegal killing takes place on a large scale, targeting species protected under EU and national law as well as threatening the survival of the breeding populations of migratory species. Unfortunately local authorities tend to turn a blind eye on poaching, or as has recently been the case in the Valencia Region, try to legalise it.

Within the project, the three BirdLife Partners have launched the ‘Leaving is Living’ campaign, which is aimed at explaining the necessity of migratory birds to migrate, as it is a crucial part of their life cycle, and that illegal killing of birds must stop. The campaign has now released its first video of a series communicating the trauma inflicted on the natural world by poachers.

The selected blackspots are not the only areas where environmental crime takes place, so the partners are also working on informing people about the issues involved and promoting active engagement with the problem. Diverse local events will be organised, targeting citizens and decision-makers, and a travelling exhibition will be set up in both Greece and Spain.

In local schools, workshops will raise students’ awareness about illegal killing and its impact on local and European biodiversity. Finally, national and international workshops will be held with Law Enforcement Agencies in each country, to highlight the importance of these environmental crimes and to share experiences gained from other areas. The partners hope that together these efforts will help ensure a safe passage and a future for migratory birds.
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