Three endangered Egyptian vultures illegally kept at a zoo in southern Lebanon, were rescued thanks to Lebanese Wildlife and the Anti-Poaching Unit (APU). The birds were rescued from the zoo and will undergo a comprehensive veterinary examination in preparation for their rehabilitation and return to nature. The Anti-Poaching Unit of the Middle East Sustainable Hunting Center (MESHC) and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) are working in partnership with the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS).
The Egyptian Vulture is Europe’s only long-distance migratory vulture. Flying up to 640 km per day, it can travel 5000 km when migrating between its European breeding sites and its wintering grounds at the southern edge of the Sahara.
On this epic journey across three continents, the Egyptian Vulture meets one danger after another. Those that escape being electrocuted by powerlines or poisoned by lethal farming chemicals may still fall victim to illegal shooting. The European population alone has fallen by up to 50% in the last 50 years, and the Balkan population has decreased by 80% in the last 30 years.
Illegal wildlife trafficking is also a big problem. In the Balkans – where only 70 pairs of Egyptian Vultures remain – young chicks and eggs are stolen from some of the most important breeding sites on the African-Eurasian flyway. Older birds are illegally poached and stuffed as ‘trophies’ for sale on the Western European black market.
BirdLife’s Lebanese Partner, the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon works at the national, regional and international levels with a number of projects which you can find out more about here.
This sensitive task was carried out in coordination with the Minister of Environment, Nasser Yassin, the Environmental Prosecutor in the South, Judge Raheef Ramadan, the General Directorate of the Internal Security Forces and the Lebanese Army – the Intelligence Directorate in the South, the President of the National Commission for Women’s Affairs and the Special Assistant to His Excellency the President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun for Environmental Affairs, Claudine Aoun Roukoz, WWF Italia, lawyer Adnan Al-Labban, environmental activist Ghina Nahfawi.