Bassam Al Kantar

Translated from Arabic by Zeina Nasser

 

The International Association Greenarea received a phone call from the Sudanese activist Tayyib Taher, asking what needs to be done to return a stork that has arrived in Sudan carrying a ring with the word Poland and the number 137 on its leg.

The Association informed the Polish Embassy in Beirut, BirdLife International, and the Polish NGO grupa Ekologiczna, about the incident, hoping to answer the call of the Sudanese activist, who expressed his interest in this bird, unlike many people who kill and torture migratory birds throughout their journey back from their winter habitat in Africa, to their summer habitat in Europe, particularly Poland.
Noting  that there is still a wrong belief, which is that wild birds with rings on their legs and tracking devices are used for spying. So, killing these birds is considered “a national achievement” (Turkey 2011, Saudi Arabia 2012, Gaza 2013, Lebanon 2013)، while what is really required is to draw attention towards these violations, based on a series of international conventions which prevent hunting  transient and migratory birds.

The valley of the Red Sea is home to over 2 million migratory birds from across the region. Usually, rings and devices are placed on the birds’ legs by research centers that are specialized in monitoring endangered bird species and knowing more about their lifestyle and their breeding.

The Stork is considered the icon of birds in several countries in Eastern Europe, due to the services it provides to farmers, by eliminating insects that threaten their crops.
The countries of Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, are part of the rift valley route – the Red Sea, which is the second most important pathway for migratory birds worldwide (more than 1.5 million birds cross it twice per yer, during seasonal migration in spring and autumn). These birds include 37 species of raptors and storks.

Many communities of threatened bird species are exposed to extinction during the seasonal migration on this path, knowing that many risks threatening these birds are caused by humans, and hunting is considered one of the most important of these risks.

Tens of millions of birds  are illegally killed each year across the countries of the Mediterranean basin, according to a scientific report released two weeks ago by “the World Council for the Protection of Birds” Birdlife International.

The report reveals disturbing facts about the large number of birds that are getting killed due to illegal, indiscriminate, and unregulated hunting. The report mentions the top ten countries that have the highest rates of bird deaths, including Lebanon, where 59% of birds of this type are very costly.
The report notes that about 248 birds per kilometer are killed annually in Lebanon, and there are 327 species of resident and migratory birds in Lebanon, 59 percent of these species of birds are exposed to all kinds of over-hunting.

The report notes that acts of indiscriminate killing of birds in Egypt recorded figures are the highest in the region, killing a year more than 5.7 million birds, which makes this country the most dangerous place in birds residents and migrant Mediterranean countries.

Among the European countries mentioned in the report, is Greece, which 700,000 birds killed annually, France with 500, 000 birds per year and 500,000 birds in Croatia and 300 000 birds in Albania. While Albania did not join the list of the ten worst states, but is among the first countries in the death of birds per square kilometer annually, killing about 108 thousand birds.The report also recorded high levels of random hunting practices in states mired in conflicts and civil wars, such as Syria and Libya, but the reality of the situation is no better in many European countries.

Greenarea.me website has already helped sponsor an initiative to control the stork “Paul” in his seasonal trip, during its migration from Poland to Africa. This bird is named after the environmental activist Paul Abi Rached who visited Poland last year to cooperate with organizations working in the field of protection of storks, which is considered the country’s national bird .
According to the available information, the locating device placed on the stork’s leg has stopped operating, above the occupied Syrian Julan, which indicates that the bird was exposed to hunting and it was detained.
Greenarea.me keeps raising awareness to highlight the dangers of the massacres affecting these migratory birds in their most important passages, including Lebanon. Our website has supported the photography contest, which is under the auspices of the Polish Embassy in Beirut in 2015.

Back in Poland, and specifically in the town of Zivkovo where residents attend a beautiful distinctive experience with storks, that town protects its birds, whose number in the summer exceed the number of inhabitants, who believe that these birds bring luck, tourists, and even children, according to the ancient Polish legends.

These villages, which are located in northern Poland, near the border with Kaliningrad, depend on their birds to attract tourists and to fight displacement from the villages. The villagers do everything they can to accommodate these large white birds who are considered as a good luck sign.

These birds have found that region as a heaven on Earth; more than 15 thousand pairs of white storks arrive each year in this country which is rich in lakes and marshes. Poland has 50 thousand birds of this type, meaning 20% of the total storks in the world, according to local authorities.
Poland has officially asked Lebanon to work to allow storks to cross the skies of Lebanon and return to their land to breed safely, noting that there is a bad reputation due to some Lebanese who hunt storks and post their pictures on Facebook pages, to squander your skills!

After meeting with the Polish Ambassador to Lebanon, the Environment Minister has promised to follow up with the case, confirming that the “issuance of a law, which devoted environmental lawyers will monitor the irregularities”. He also added that there will be cooperation with municipalities to prevent this phenomenon. There was also  encouragement to place the storks in some parts of Lebanon, such  as Bnashi, to drive awareness its importance.

 

The International Association GreenArea is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva – Switzerland, and founded in early 2016. It is interested in all matters related to the environment in the Mediterranean region, especially regarding biodiversity and threatened species. Hoping to join the squad that was emigrating with him through his transfer to Blonda and re-integrate with the birds that are out there .

The International Association GreenArea works on creating and strengthening a private network of environmental journalists through training workshops and the development of reference materials, in addition to the most comprehensive production and distribution platforms, distribution of small grants and publishing journalists’ work in print, radio, television and many platforms other than online media, with a focus on issues such as climate change, biodiversity, water, environmental health, oceans and coastal resources.

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