Illegal Killing of Birds in Arabia - a serious regional threat

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Guest blog by Majd Abu Zaghlan 

In a joint effort to collect information on the scale of illegal bird killing and trapping, BirdLife International and OSME are doubling their efforts across the Arabian Peninsula, Iran and Iraq to help governments, decision-makers, and NGOs set priorities to combat this serious threat to our region’s wildlife.

The Illegal killing and taking of birds is a growing issue of concern. Little quantitative information is available as to which species might be most affected, which countries are facing the most serious problems, and which are the worst locations.

Most of us have heard stories of illegal killing and trapping of birds, yet so little quantitative information has been made available on which species might be most affected, in addition to countries that are facing the most serious problems, and which are the worst locations. Quantitative assessments are therefore needed to estimate how many individuals may be killed illegally each year, which species may be the most impacted and where the worst locations may be. This data has already been collected and collated for the Mediterranean countries (see the map below), but now the project is being extended into Arabia, Iraq, Iran and northern Europe. 

Elaborating on the issue of Illegal Bird killing and taking

Overexploitation, in particular illegal killing and taking, is one of the main threats driving some species towards extinction globally and is known to be a growing problem.

This latest phase of project is being coordinated by BirdLife International’s Global and Regional secretariats (in Africa, Europe and the Middle East) and aimed to review all the aspects of illegal killing and taking of birds in 40 countries of which 32 are in Europe and 8 in the Middle East.

The BirdLife Partnership’s action against illegal killing has three main aims:  to reduce killing of protected species, to improve protection of key sites for migratory birds and to ensure adequate law enforcement.  BirdLife’s ultimate objective is to end illegal and indiscriminate killing and ensure legal, responsible and sustainable hunting – in areas where hunting does take place. It is a long road ahead, but progress is being made in some countries where governments are working in collaboration with BirdLife Partners and policy mechanisms with invaluable additional supporters and donors.

The results of the study will help governments and other stakeholders in the Middle East and Europe to prioritise action to address this issue effectively with support from policy mechanisms and other stakeholders. It will also provide an important quantitative baseline against which future progress in tackling this issue can be measured. The results of the review will be used to help raise awareness of the issue and to maintain and increase existing national and international advocacy efforts to ensure commitment to  action to ending illegal killing and taking of birds. Within the BirdLife partnership, the review will provide a quantitative basis for prioritisation of action and assist with fundraising to support advocacy.

The impact will be big, making a difference awaits – and our programme can be a model for the world!

Majd Abu Zaghlan  is the Regional Communications Officer for BirdLife International’s Middle East Secretariat.