The Avian Influenza outbreak had at least one positive outcome in Egypt: it kept both local and migratory birds safe from hunters. But last year in December the government re-opened the country to what seems to be a permanent hunting season without any kind of regulatory oversight, leaving Maltese hunters and others free to conduct wild killing sprees that frequently result in the deaths of untold numbers of birds.
This video was released by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) to raise awareness of what one conservationist called “crazy fanatics” from Malta, who aren’t hunting as much as they’re slaughtering even endangered species.
Mindy Baha El Din, an American conservationist who married a renowned Egyptian Ornithologist, is a tireless activist for animal rights in Egypt. When Arwa interviewed her last year she expressed hope that the revolution would usher in an era of improved protection for the country’s precious biodiversity, but so far it seems that almost the opposite is taking place.
Although progress has been made in Hurghada, the scene of the country’s very first dolphin sanctuary, and Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) is taking to task restaurants that serve illegal sharks and other marine creatures, the lawlessness that has seeped into every aspect of Egyptian society has affected its wildlife as well.
A surge in hunting trips
After the government made bird hunting legal again, a host of tour companies have been offering “dream” duck hunting tours and other trips with “experienced hunters.”
Royal Dream Tours will take as few as one person on trips that last up to four days through Cairo, Fayoum, and Binyusef. They note in their online literature that everyday is good since “hunting season is open now.” Hunting trips with Wadi Tours last as many as seven days.
But Mindy’s husband Sherif told Egypt Independent earlier this year that it’s not possible to have a hunting season when there are no rules in place to guide hunters’ conduct. As a result, no one is available to mitigate the kind of free-for-all depicted in this video.
Pelicans, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis, Egyptian Vultures and Osprey are among the birds massacred by jubilant Maltese Famers, along iwth Lanner Falcon and Bonelli’s Eagle, bringing to mind several other recent incidents including thousands of fruit bats gunned down in Lebanon and one million songbirds in Cyprus killed for a pickled dish.
Monitoring the massacre
In response to pleas from Egyptian conservationists, CABS has pledged to monitor the next hunting season. ”We will monitor important rest areas around Lake Nasser for migrant birds on passage,” CABS spokesperson Axel Hirschfeld promised, adding that they “will work closely with local ornithologists and law enforcement agencies.”
Hopefully their presence will deter reckless hunters.
:: CABS (plus a major hat tip to Mindy Baha El Din)
image via BirdLife Malta
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