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New study and video reveal magnitude of illegality in Egyptian hunting and trapping


10 May 2016


Climate & Environment

Cambridge 10 May, 2016 - for immediate release

New study reveals over 75% of bird killing and trapping[NN1] in Egypt is illegal. BirdLife International releases new data on Mediterranean hotspot for illegal bird killing, and shows graphic video on killing methods.

Nature Conservation Egypt (BirdLife in Egypt) and the BirdLife International Secretariat released today a study on the socio-economic drivers of hunting and trapping practices in Egypt (1).

With an estimated 6 million birds killed and trapped illegally every year, Egypt is one of the most dangerous places for migratory birds in the Mediterranean, followed by Italy and Lebanon. BirdLife International has also released a video to document the Mediterranean massacre[NN1] [NN1]  that has reached over 2 million people in 48 hours. (2)

Today is World Migratory Bird Day, and this year is focused on the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds. All science indicates that migratory birds are declining in large numbers. On the African-Eurasian migratory flyway 1 in 10 migratory bird species are threatened with global extinction.

The new study’s main findings:

  • There are 3 ”hunter profiles”: Commercial hunters motivated by the economic value of bird selling; subsistence hunters who hunt for securing source of protein; and recreational hunters;
  • Almost 50% are fishermen and live in families with more than 4 members. But almost 20% are public-sector employees;
  • At least 75% of hunting observed is illegal and bird hunting has significant socioeconomic importance to the local communities along the coast;
  • Almost all hunters use illegal fine ‘trammel’ nets (100%) and call devices (85%) knowing these are illegal;
  • Only 7% keep the birds for personal consumption. Most of the birds are sold to the market;
  • Almost all hunters target quails and doves. Nearly 80% target also songbirds;
  • Education: nearly 2/3 of hunters interviewed had either primary or no education;
  • Over 50% of the hunters derive 50% or more of their income from the activity, with 21% earning more than 75%.

Dr. Salwa Elhalawani, author of the study for Nature Conservation Egypt stated: The study sheds light on the magnitude of the illegality of hunting along the Mediterranean cost of Egypt. But, most importantly, we have profiled hunters and mapped their socio-economic background, so we can recommend mechanisms to help them, as well as the birds, in the future.”

Noor A.Noor, Executive Coordinator at Nature Conservation Egypt stated: “The socioeconomic study provides much needed context for all scientific research taking place by the Responsible Hunting Programme. By deepening our understanding of the human factors behind illegal killing and trapping, we increase our chances of taking suitable measures, in coordination with local communities, to promote sustainable practices.”

Claire Thompson, Conservation expert at BirdLife International stated: “Egypt is situated on important migration routes for birds travelling between their breeding grounds in Eurasia and their wintering sites in Africa. Studies such as these enable BirdLife Partners to push for a more strategic and holistic approach to eliminating  illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean region.

The study contains a detailed list of recommendations to address the illegal killing of birds (3).






(1)Socio economic study information:

Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE), under the supervision of the BirdLife International Secretariat, was awarded a small grant by the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement organisation (AEWA), to undertake a socio-economic survey on bird hunting along the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, to understand the socio-economic dimensions of bird hunting, and assess the resource dependency and social resilience and communities’ ability to cope with any future changes in regulations and conservation strategies. Survey fieldwork was conducted during the autumn season of 2015.

This work is being done as part of the implementation of the Plan of Action developed in 2014 to address illegal trapping of birds within the framework of the United Nations’ International Convention on Migratory Species (an inter-governmental treaty with a commitment to conserve terrestrial, aquatic and avian migratory species throughout their range). The key objective of this study was to help inform efforts to reduce illegal and unsustainable bird hunting, based on a better understanding of the relationship between hunters and birds as a natural resource and therefore, predict the consequences of policy changes and whether hunters can cope with change and adapt to new conservation strategies. The primary data source for the study was a field survey that encompassed quantitative and qualitative data, preceded by a review of relevant literature. 73 bird hunters and traders from 25 local communities, towns and cities along the coast were interviewed with an extensive questionnaire designed and tested prior to the survey. Group discussions were also held in communities where a reasonable number of hunters agreed to participate in a discussion group, where this was possible.

(2) Video links

Illegal Killing video:

BirdLife's CEO Zurita appeal

(3) Recommendations for action:


1.     Securing high-level political support to ensure that measures to address the dilemma of bird hunting is given a high priority in conservation sectors.

2.     Enforcement of hunting regulations to bring the hunting of birds under more effective control – through:

a)     Implementation of the recommendations from the legal review undertaken by NCE and EEAA

b)     Development of bird hunting management plan to cover not only the Mediterranean coast but the entire country.

c)     Prohibit use of mist nets in certain areas along the coast;

d)     Set out a new system to increase the amounts of fines for hunting violations

3.     Increase awareness of bird conservation through:

a)     Local mosques’ Imams and Islamic public figures in media, to convey the conservation message to local people, trying to shift their behaviour away from illegal and/or unsustainable activities.

b)     Bird conservation awareness strategy should be developed, focussing on the younger generation, particularly school age children.

4.     Mainstreaming the socioeconomic issues of bird hunting including through:

a)     Establishment of fish farms to be run by community member

b)     Small loans at low interest rate to be provided to communities’ member to start small businesses

c)     Development of governmental incentive plan to cover part of the loss might occur from new conservation strategies and hunting regulations

5.     Development of a mechanism to control, track and follow up on bird hunting permits.

6.     Improving the knowledge base of official stakeholders towards the hunting and trading of birds. Particularly attention should be given to those species in trade of high conservation concern such as birds of prey.

7.     Controlling the export of wild birds.