Egypt: talking biodiversity while killing millions of birds?

Captured migratory birds in Egypt A bird hunter with red-backed shrikes (© H. Schulz)

In Egypt, millions of migratory birds are indiscriminately slaughtered every year, destined for the dinner plates of local “gourmets”. Yet this crime against nature is not stopping Egypt from hosting the 14th UN Biodiversity Conference. Please speak out against the trapping of birds in Egypt and other Mediterranean countries.

Call to action

To: the government of Egypt, participants of the UN Biodiversity Conference in Sharm El Sheikh

Migratory birds are being decimated – government representatives gathered at the UN Biodiversity Conference must put a stop to the killing in Egypt.

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The 14th UN Biodiversity Conference will take place in Egypt in late November. While the delegations gather in a luxury resort in Sharm El Sheikh, millions of migratory birds from Europe will be captured along the Egypt’s Mediterranean coast and marketed as “delicacies”.

On their journey to their winter quarters in Africa, birds from Europe face a gauntlet of nets, snares, glue traps and loudspeakers playing bird calls that stretches 700 km along Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

Some of the birds are sold alive, but most are plucked and frozen. The tiny bodies of songbirds such as robins and nightingales, as well as turtledoves, quail and wild ducks end up on the plates of “gourmets” in dubious restaurants. Some birds of prey such as falcons are sold alive to wealthy “bird lovers” in the Gulf States for their private aviaries.

An estimated 12 million birds fall victim to the poachers in Egypt every year. The number has gone down recently – not because poaching has decreased, but due to declining populations of migratory birds. The poachers also consider endangered species to be fair game.

Bird hunting is also common in other countries around the Mediterranean, such as Italy, France, Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Lebanon.

Please sign our petition and tell the government delegations gathered in Sharm El Sheikh to put an end to the barbaric hunting of birds in Egypt and other Mediterranean countries.

Back­ground

Biodiversity

Nobody knows exactly how many animal and plant species there are on this planet. In any case, the number is in the millions. New species are being described daily, particularly in the tropics. Biodiversity also includes genetic diversity within species, the interwoven relationships of living beings and the wide range of ecosystems.

But biodiversity is under siege worldwide. The few remaining pockets of pristine nature are being plundered and transformed into uniform industrial plantations, while wildlife is killed or captured and marketed. Genetic diversity is dwindling and species are going extinct.

The destruction of tropical rainforests by the timber, palm oil and soy industries is having the greatest impact on biodiversity. But things are not looking much better in the global North: According to the European Commission, the status of three-quarters of all animal and plant species and habitats in Europe is “unfavorable” or “bad”.

With its biodiversity strategy, the EU aims to halt the decline by 2020 and restore ecosystems. It has a long way to go, however. The European Commission has noted that very little progress has been made toward achieving Europe’s biodiversity goals.

Further information on illegal bird hunting in Egypt

Hunting and illegal killing of birds along the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, socio-economic study 2018 

Report on the state of biodiversity in the EU

European Commission report: The State of Nature in the EU

Letter

To: the government of Egypt, participants of the UN Biodiversity Conference in Sharm El Sheikh

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Biodiversity is dwindling rapidly – in the EU and around the world.

According to the European Commission, three-quarters of all animal and plant species and habitats in our rich global North are in “unfavorable” or “bad” condition.

Around the Mediterranean Sea, millions of migratory birds from Europe die a cruel death every year in order to end up as “delicacies” on the plates of diners. In Egypt, they are captured in a 700 km gauntlet of nets, snares and glue traps along the coast from Libya to the Gaza Strip.

In the tropics, rainforests and other irreplaceable ecosystems are being sold off as tropical timber or cleared for the cultivation of agricultural commodities such as palm oil, soy and cocoa. Poachers kill or capture endangered animals, driving the illicit trade in ivory and other animal parts and the market for exotic pets.

We call on you to comply with the EU’s biodiversity goals. Stop the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems by 2020, as set out in the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and take action to remedy the damage already done to ecosystems.

Yours faithfully,

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