Stop the mass slaughter of migratory birds!

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

Every year, millions of migratory birds are slaughtered in southern Europe and northern Africa – either hunted for “sport” or trapped and sold to local restaurants. From tiny songbirds to storks — none are safe. It's time to end this barbaric practice in various Mediterranean countries.

Call to action

To: the governments of the Mediterranean countries

Put an end to the barbaric wholesale slaughter of migratory birds in countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

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Twice a year, hundreds of millions of birds migrate between their breeding grounds in Europe and wintering grounds in Africa, often flying thousands of kilometers.

With the Mediterranean Sea as a natural barrier, most birds either take a westerly route along the coasts of France and Spain, or an easterly one across the Middle East. Another major migratory route goes down the length of Italy, crossing the Mediterranean via Malta.

With each migration, an estimated 25 million birds never reach their destination: they face a gauntlet of “sportsmen” with guns, as well as the nets and snares of poachers – from tiny songbirds to storks and cranes, none are safe. The most dangerous countries for birds are Italy and Egypt, but bird hunting is also common in other countries such as France, Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Lebanon.

Some of the netted and snared 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. While all of this is illegal, the authorities in the relevant countries seem to have other priorities.

An estimated 12 million birds fall victim to poachers in Egypt alone 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.

Please sign our petition calling on the governments of Mediterranean countries to put an end to the slaughter and trafficking of birds.

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.

Report on the state of biodiversity in the EU

European Commission report: The State of Nature in the EU

Letter

To: the governments of the Mediterranean countries

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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