Majority of Egyptian bird trapping and killing found to be illegal

Golden Oriole no longer breeds in Britain, but often finds itself in the nets of Egyptian bird trappers. Photo: Paco Gómez (commons.wikimedia.org).
Golden Oriole no longer breeds in Britain, but often finds itself in the nets of Egyptian bird trappers. Photo: Paco Gómez (commons.wikimedia.org).
A study has revealed that more than 75 per cent of bird killing and trapping  in Egypt is illegal.

BirdLife International has release new data on Mediterranean hotspot for illegal bird killing, and a graphic video of the killing methods (below).

Nature Conservation Egypt (BirdLife in Egypt) and the BirdLife International Secretariat released today a study on the socio-economic drivers of hunting and trapping practices in Egypt. With an estimated six million birds killed and trapped illegally every year, Egypt is one of the most dangerous places for migratory birds in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy and Lebanon. BirdLife International has also released a video to document the Mediterranean massacre that has already reached more than two million people in the first 48 hours of its availability.

All the science indicates that migratory birds are declining in large numbers, and on the African-Eurasian migratory flyway, one in 10 migratory bird species are threatened with global extinction.

The study also found that there are three types of 'hunter profile': commercial killers motivated by the economic value of bird selling, subsistence hunters trying to secure a source of protein and recreational hunters. Almost 50 per cent are fishermen and live in families with more than four members, though almost 20 per cent are public-sector employees. At least 75 per cent of hunting observed is illegal, and bird hunting has significant socio-economic importance to the local communities along the coast.

Almost all hunters use illegal fine ‘trammel’ nets and call devices knowing these are illegal. Only seven per cent keep the birds for personal consumption, as most of the birds are sold to the market. Almost all hunters target quails and doves, while nearly 80 per cent also target songbirds. Almost two-thirds of hunters interviewed had either primary or no education, while more than 50 per cent of the hunters at least half of their income from the activity, with 21 per cent earning more than 75 per cent.

Dr Salwa Elhalawani, author of the study for Nature Conservation Egypt, said: ”The study sheds light on the magnitude of the illegality of hunting along the Mediterranean cost of Egypt. But, most importantly, we have profiled hunters and mapped their socio-economic background, so we can recommend mechanisms to help them, as well as the birds, in the future.”

Noor A Noor, Executive Co-ordinator at Nature Conservation Egypt, stated: “The socio-economic study provides much needed context for all scientific research taking place by the Responsible Hunting Programme. By deepening our understanding of the human factors behind illegal killing and trapping, we increase our chances of taking suitable measures, in co-ordination with local communities, to promote sustainable practices.”

Claire Thompson, Conservation expert at BirdLife International, stated: “Egypt is situated on important migration routes for birds travelling between their breeding grounds in Eurasia and their wintering sites in Africa. Studies such as these enable BirdLife Partners to push for a more strategic and holistic approach to eliminating  illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean region.

The study also contains a detailed list of recommendations to address the illegal killing of birds.