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 Birds Importance

 

 Hunting in Lebanon

 

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Hunting, Lebanon

Lebanon is virtually a microcosm of the whole world. This tiny country of 10452 Km2 has a temperate Mediterranean climate dominated by two mountain ranges with a rift valley in between, running parallel to a 225 km sandy and rocky coastline.

It is enriched by Alpine mountains and deep valleys with swamps, forests more than 3000 years old, over 18 rivers and thousands of natural springs, all of which add to its diverse flora and fauna. Such richness of natural heritage must not be taken for granted. Without good management and implementation of environmental and conservation laws, resources that are so abundant today may cease to exist.

Organizations like Ministry of Environment, National Center for Scientific Research and the SPNL/NGO are making certain that this does not happen.

A total of 369 bird species were recorded in Lebanon.

At present, the 369 species mentioned above belong to 60 families and 18 orders. About 78% are members of the following orders: Passeriformes - 160 species (about 43% of the total); Charadriiformes - 68 (18%); Accipitriformes and Falconiformes - 39 (11%); and Anseriformes - 20 (5%).

So far, 134 species have been recorded breeding in Lebanon. Only 110 breed regularly, the rest being either occasional or former breeders. Of the 110 regular breeders, 56 are exclusively residents (i.e. their populations remain within Lebanon) such as Sparrow, Palm Dove, Yellow-legged Gull, Graceful Warbler, Bulbul, Chukar, Long-legged Buzzard. 54 are exclusively summer breeders (i.e. winter elsewhere but breed in Lebanon) such as Turtle Dove, Pallid Swift, Swallow, Red-backed Shrike, White Wagtail.

The breeding season for 74% of the species is from March to mid-July, while the rest may start as early as the beginning of February (i.e. raptors) or end as late as September (i.e. Palm Dove, Sparrow, Graceful Warbler).

Among the species that have bred in the past (former breeders) two are today extinct in Lebanon (Lesser Crested Tern and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater). The reason for their extirpation as breeders are various. The following circumstances provide a plausible explanation for this:

1.   Four species (Audouin's Gull, Lesser Crested Tern, Common Tern and Little Tern) were published by Stenhouse (1904) breeding on palm Islands but stopped to do so, at least from 1956 onward. Furthermore, one of these species (Lesser Crested Tern) apparently ceased to appear in Lebanon. The extirpation of these four species from the islands is not surprising knowing that insular communities are very susceptible to persecution, disturbance and development. All these factors (hunting, egging, feeding on nestling, recreational, commercial and agricultural activities, military occupation, fishing with dynamite near the islands, etc.) prevailed in the area prior to its declaration a protected area. Only the Yellow-legged Gull obtaining, throughout the year (especially in winter), ample food from waste resisted. This was not the case of the extirpated species which mostly rely on natural food.

2.    Five species of raptors (Egyptian Vulture, Griffon Vulture, Levant Sparrowhawk, Golden Eagle and Lesser Kestrel were also published as breeders but stopped to do so not only because of the pressure of hunting but also due to the destruction and the fragmentation of their natural habitat (degraded woodlands for most species) and to human interference in the nesting areas.

The list of migrants and/ or winterers includes 246 species. Huge numbers of birds are recorded each year on migration such as Garganey, Honey Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Whinchat, Marsh Warbler, Willow Warbler and Collared Flycatcher. Many species occur on migration and in winter like Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Common Buzzard, Woodcock, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-headed Gull, Skylark, Dunnock, Stonechat and Chiffchaff. While the list of birds that are exclusively winter visitors in Lebanon is limited to 8 species: Gannet, Gadwall, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Wallcreeper, Jackdaw, Desert Finch and Yellowhammer.

Some migrating or wintering species may have smaller populations that breed in Lebanon as residents or summer visitors such as Little Bittern, Booted Eagle, Kestrel, Hobby, Quail, Water Rail, Coot, Yellow-legged Gull, Barn Swallow, White Wagtail, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, etc.

Moreover, the list encompasses 80 vagrant or occasional species (wanderers outside the migration range of the species) of which 36 are unrecorded since 1972. That is about a quarter of all bird species ever recorded in Lebanon. Among the vagrants that have been recently recorded: Slovenian Grebe, European Storm Petrel, Mute Swan, Red-crested Pochard, White-tailed Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard, Verreaux's Eagle, Oyster catcher, Red-necked Phalarope, Armenian Gull, Alpine Accentor, Cyprus Pied Wheatear, Green Warbler, Plain Leaf Warbler and Yellow-throated Sparrow.

The presence of some endangered species, at global level, in Lebanon (Pygmy Cormorant, Dalmatian Pelican, Ferriginous Duck, White-tailed Sea Eagle, Corn crake, Great Snipe, Audouin's Gull) make it clear that this country is of great value at international scale.

Finally, one should stress that despite the ban on hunting in Lebanon, the situation for many birds is getting worse. This is not only because of the gunning down of birds for fun or the irresponsible and lawbreaking actions of some people but also because of the continuous use of thousands of tons of poisonous chemicals in agriculture which directly and indirectly kill birds, the fire and the intensified grazing which destroy the remaining habitats, the superstitious beliefs which consider all owls as bringers of bad luck, etc.

If things will continue in the same way, many birds will cease to breed or will no longer occur in Lebanon. This is why there is an urgent need to use legislation to protect birds, face threats, identify important sites and getting them protected, to run public awareness and education campaigns, and to act now.

Reserved Sites

  • Ras Al Chaqaa

  • Nahr Al Kabeer

  • Cheikh Zennad

  • Kanater Set Zbeideh / Beirut River Valley

  • Ebel es Saqi

  • Taanayel Pond

  •   Qaraoun Lake

  • Ain Aata

  • Rashaya Al Wadi – Mount Hermon Area

  • Ain Hourché

  • Aaiha

  • Qaa El Rim / Sannine

  • Tannourine Nature Reserve

  • Kfar Zabad /AnjarTyre Coast Nature Reserve

  • Qadisha Valley

  • Damour River Valley

  • Awali River Valley

  • Ramlieh Valley-Chouf

  • Mansouri/Bayada/Naqoura

  • Hasbaya River valley

  • Yammouneh Nature Reserve

  • Orontis River Valley

  • Al Mjar/Ras Baalbeck

  • Jisr El Kadi

  • Yanta

  • Deir El Aachayer

  • Bentael Nature Reserve

  • Mount Rihan

  • Beaufort Castle

  • Wadi Khaled

  • Litani River Valley

  • Khallet Khazem

  • Jouhannam Valley

  • Deir Al Harf

  • Rashaya/Hermon Mountain

  • Khiam Forest

  • Jabal Almat

  • Ibrahim (Adonis) River Valley

  • Zibdeen

  • Sannine Mountain

  • Chebaa

 

 

 

Information From the Ministry of Tourism

Lebanese Ministry of Tourism

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