By Jessica Williams, Flyways Conservation Officer at BirdLife International @NatureEU
When you think of poaching, what do you think of? Elephants shot for their tusks, pangolins trapped for their scales or tigers sold for their skins? What about the humble robin (Erithacus rubecula) that many northern Europeans associate with Christmas? Or the elegant stork (Ciconia ciconia) that is said to carry babies?
These too are victims of poaching.
So are hundreds of other bird species that would be familiar visitors to many: blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus), skylarks (Alauda arvensis), chaffinches (Fringilla coelebs), goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis), hen harriers (Circus cyaneus), red kites (Milvus milvus), and even golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), to name but a few. All of these species are protected by national or international legislation and yet many are illegally killed on an industrial scale.
What’s more, this illegal killing is not happening in far-flung and exotic places; this happens right on our doorsteps. The illegal hunting, trapping, and trade of wild birds takes place all across the European Union, in the Middle East and North Africa.
They are sold in markets as caged songbirds, they are consumed in restaurants and homes all across Europe, they are shot by the hundreds for sport, or bagged as trophies by holidaymakers and shipped back home to be put on display. All of this is illegal.
We work to ensure protected species stay protected!
Here at BirdLife, we are working to end the illegal killing of migratory birds. We have a small but extremely dedicated team that is active all along the flyway to ensure that legislation is upheld and that protected species stay protected.
With our partner NGOs on the ground, we run a huge programme of targeted conservation work with a particular focus on the Mediterranean.
The lockdown has meant a drastic increase in illegal killing of migratory birds across the region.
Infuriatingly, while much of the natural world was granted a bit of breathing space during the corona lockdown, this was not the case for our migratory birds passing through Europe and the Mediterranean.
The lockdown meant a drastic increase in illegal killing, not just in the Mediterranean but in Northern Europe as well – the UK has seen a 400% increase in illegal persecution of birds of prey since March 2020.
These past few months, our teams have been working non-stop under extremely difficult conditions to try to reduce this awful trend.
You have the power to help end this slaughter in the Mediterranean and elsewhere:
You could join one of our anti-poaching volunteer camps that patrol key migration sites in places like Lebanon, Malta and Italy each year. Find out more
Get involved with your local BirdLife partner, our partners rely on the commitment of volunteers and engaged citizens to continue their vital work. Full list of partners and how to get in touch
Simply stay informed: follow BirdLife International and our partners on social media, support our anti-poaching efforts, join our online events, and spread the word about the need to protect birds.