First ever pan-Mediterranean study reveals scale of wild birds massacre


By Willem van den Bossche, European Nature Conservation Officer at BirdLife Europe.

27 BirdLife Partners in the Mediterranean region, plus Georgia, are undertaking for the very first time, a much needed scientific review. Early results show that at least 10 million birds are illegally killed and taken in the Mediterranean region each year, including many threatened or declining species. 

They have been gathering existing and new information on the locations with the greatest frequency of illegal bird killings, the practices used and the number of individuals killed and taken per species. This Pan-Mediterranean wide comprehensive analysis will provide an overview of the scope and scale of the problem and help form a baseline for priority setting and action taking.

The illegal killing of birds across the Mediterranean covers a wide range of crimes: illegal shooting, trapping, collection of eggs or young, poisoning and other methods. It can refer to the killing and taking of birds in areas and/or during periods that are forbidden, the use of illegal methods, voluntary poisoning of certain species, killing or taking of protected species, and more. We know that the drivers behind these crimes are very different and have national and local patterns. Also, that some activities are linked to financial profits and organized crime whereas many others are linked to poor education and awareness.

This important review will serve as a foundation for setting conservation priorities in relation to illegal killing of migratory birds. It will provide the information needed for a clearer advocacy agenda. It will aid dialogue with hunter organizations, governments and international conventions so that tailor made solutions can be found for the countries and regions affected, while having sensitivity to economic, social and political settings. It will allow for monitoring of changes over time and the ability to assess the impact of conservation measures including the EU Birds Directive, Bern Convention, CMS, AEWA, Raptor MOU, and BirdLife actions.

BirdLife will use the information collected as a basis for a future programme of investment which will support BirdLife Partners in their battle against illegal killing in the most efficient and productive way.