BEIRUT — The Environmental Prosecutor in Lebanon’s north has opened an investigation into alleged illegal poaching of migratory birds in Akkar over the weekend, following a request from caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin, according to a ministry statement.
The minister requested cooperation from security forces to pursue the suspected violators of the hunting law, according to the statement.
Graphic videos and photos circulating on social media appear to show a large flock of white storks being shot at with military-style weapons in the town of Bebnine, Akkar with several of the birds falling dead. The shooting, which some social media users referred to as a "massacre," purportedly took place over the weekend.
One photo that circulated online apparently showed dozens of dead storks.
One person was minorly injured in the gunfire, the Bebnine mukhtar told L’Orient Today by phone. A local resident added that he sought shelter indoors when the heavy shooting started, as some bullets had landed near him.
"Such shootings are common when migrating birds fly over Lebanon, but yesterday was especially intense," Bebnine mukhtar Zaher Kassar said.
"We were all upset."
Lebanese law prohibits the hunting of wild migratory birds as well as hunting within 500 meters of inhabited areas, hunting without a proper license, and hunting outside of the designated season. Licensed hunters may kill birds up to a numerical limit per person per day during the legal season, provided they fall within a narrow list of huntable species.
Sherine Bou Rafoul, director of the antipoaching unit (APU) at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, told L'Orient Today that the alleged illegal poaching of white storks was "a massacre."
During recent visits to rural Akkar, Bou Rafoul said her team found that many residents are not aware that these bird species are protected.
She cited a "lack of awareness about the hunting law and the protected migratory birds."
"This is our next target — to reduce the poaching and do it all over Lebanon, Akkar and north of Lebanon."
Each fall and spring, more than two billion migratory birds fly over Lebanon, one of the world’s most important migration corridors, on their annual passage from Europe to Africa. They include all sorts of raptors, pelicans, storks and many other species.
Some 2.6 million birds are illegally killed in Lebanon by poachers in a typical year, according to BirdLife International, a partnership of international bird conservation NGOs.
Reporting contributed by Sally Abou AlJoud
BEIRUT — The Environmental Prosecutor in Lebanon’s north has opened an investigation into alleged illegal poaching of migratory birds in Akkar over the weekend, following a request from caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin, according to a ministry statement.The minister requested cooperation from security forces to pursue the suspected violators of the hunting law, according to the...