When a Lebanese hunter posted an image of two men presenting a bonnet full of dead birds on his Facebook page, he didn’t get quite the response he hoped to receive. Instead of cheers and congratulations, he received leers and boos.
Fouad Nassif has since removed the image from his wall, but not before it appeared on the STOP Shooting Birds!! in Lebanon! page, where nature lovers expressed outrage. A few die hard hunters had their say as well. We contacted Gabriel Medawar and Julie Lebnann, two of the country’s most outspoken activists, who are circulating a petition to ask the government to enforce existing hunting laws.
The psychology of hunters
“Has anyone thought of carrying a psychological study to find out what makes these “hunters” go out and commit these bird massacres? That might help come out with a solution,” responded one man, who said he was ashamed to be Lebanese.
“Is it too much testosterone? Is it a fetish of some sort? Is it a gene that they might share with Ghenkis Khan, Pol Pot and Hitler? Really; what makes some people do this and boast about it on the Internet [sic], and to hell with the reputation of us Lebanese?”
“Dont be ashamed dude we are killing people [sic]” responded another man, who brought down a house of reprisals with this comment.
We contacted Nassif, who originally posted the image on his page, but he was not willing to answer our questions.
“Is it good for Lebanon,” he asked, to which we responded that we thought it was.
“Sorry Tafline but you have to explain to me more, I do not see any good in all this,” he responded.
In 2001, the Ministry of Environment found that millions of migratory birds are killed each year in Lebanon, where they navigate a narrow 15 km corridor between Europe, West Asia and Africa.
At least 37 species brave the Rift Valley/Red Sea flyway, including five globally threatened species and some that travel 10,000 km in two months, only to reach a cruel barrage of deadly bullets in Lebanon.
Hunting has been illegal in Lebanon since the 1990s, which some critics claim actually hurts the environmentalist cause since it is unrealistic to execute a complete ban, but the laws are poorly enforced.
A message to our children
Dozens of images like the one above are posted on Facebook with zero fear of reprisal, worrying activists about the message such gloating sends to children. We’ve seen images of owls and hawks and even beautiful cranes dangled by their legs, their killers grinning from ear to ear.
“We will not ask you for the Ideal situation that is to Help make the Whole Lebanon a Protected Land for Nature and Creatures…we believe Leaders Can Help Influence a Change like this but they cannot do it alone without Involving their Local Population [sic],” write activists in an online petition.
“We will ask you today to Simply ENFORCE the Existing Laws and Regulations of Hunting in Lebanon as a Great Step in the Right Direction.”
As the Syrian massacre continues and North Africa broils under the heat of change, we aren’t confident that Lebanon will tackle this problem now. But at the very least, concerned citizens should make their voices heard.