Scientific Review on Illegal Bird Killing in the Mediterranean

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BirdLife International published last month a scientific review on illegal bird killing across the Mediterranean region, the first ever comprehensive scientific study to quantify the scale and scope of illegal killing across this region. The results of this study are gruesome and despite the legal protection that is in place in the various countries, an estimated 25 million birds are killed illegally every year.

BirdLife International and the country Partners have uncovered the shocking extent to which a number of species are being decimated, and have put together a list of the ten countries with the highest number of birds being illegally shot, trapped or glued annually, which are: Egypt, Italy, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Greece, France, Croatia, Libya and Albania.

Although countries currently hit by conflict, such as Syria and Libya, feature high in the rankings, some European nations also fare poorly. It comes as no a surprise that Cyprus ranks top as one of the worst trapping areas in the Mediterranean basin. In fact the report identified 3 individual locations where more than half a million birds are illegally killed every year: ranking first was the Famagusta area in Cyprus (689,000 birds), followed by the Menbej-Tishreen dam in Syria (679,000 birds)  and the El Manzala area in Egypt (617,000 birds).

Apart from the Famagusta district featuring as the worst bird killing area in the Mediterranean region, Cyprus also has the highest number of birds killed per capita, 196 birds killed per 100 people, followed by Lebanon with an estimated number of 44 birds killed per 100 people. The scale of illegal bird trapping in Cyprus is very evident from this scientific study, both in terms of how extensive and how large scale it is nowadays, highlighting the impact Cyprus has as a country on migratory birds.   

The report identified the most affected bird species from illegal bird killing and estimated that the Eurasian Chaffinch came top of the ‘kill list’ (an estimated 2.9 million are killed each year), with Eurasian Blackcap (1.8 million), Common Quail (1.6 million) and Song Thrush (1.2 million) making up the rest of the top four. Furthermore, in terms of methods of killing, the report highlighted, amongst others, shooting and trapping as the main methods used.

The shameful findings of this scientific report clearly show the urgent necessity for the adoption of the Strategic Action Plan to tackle the illegal trapping of birds in Cyprus, without any derogation, and the need for a consistent zero tolerance policy. The data in this review have been submitted to be published in a scientific paper due out at a later date giving a full assessment of the situation in the Mediterranean.


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