Lebanon becomes a stopover for thousands of storks migrating north

Hunters and poachers kill thousands of birds every year, making the migration routes over Lebanon very dangerous

Thousands of storks stopped over in South Lebanon this week on their dangerous migration north for the summer.

Pictures and videos of the storks delighted social media users, days after an invasion of locusts caused concerns over food security in a country already suffering from its worst economic crisis yet.

“About that plague of locusts that was descending on Lebanon on top of everything else … nature is stepping in with the biggest muster of storks imaginable. What a sight!” tweeted Lebanese artist Joumana Medlej.

Lebanon is a dangerous leg of the storks’ route because they fall prey to hunters and poachers who shoot down large birds and trap smaller ones in mist nets.

Every year, 2.6 million birds are illegally trapped or shot, according to the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon.

After North America, the small Mediterranean country is the second biggest fly-way for migrating soaring birds, including storks, Assad Serhal, president of the SPNL, told The National.

“This makes Lebanon very important for these birds. Any poaching or illegal killing could jeopardise endangered species,” he said.

The number of large birds such as cranes, eagles and vultures are in heavy decline around the world.

The SPNL set up an anti-poaching unit three years ago in co-operation with the police and army.

Some people kill birds for local consumption, Mr Serhal said. “And some just do it for the hell of it.”

Updated: April 29, 2021 01:22 PM

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