For Migratory Birds, Lebanon Is A 'Black Hole' Where They Are Hunted, Trapped, Killed

Every year, some 2.6 million birds are shot or die after being trapped in illegal nets in Lebanon. "This country is a black hole in terms of protection," says a conservationist.
A lure attracts songbirds into a poacher's field in Ras Baalbek. Source: Sam Tarling for NPR

In an orchard in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Axel Hirschfeld, an activist with the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, carefully untangles the delicate wings of a young blue-gray bird from a poacher's net.

Behind him, two Lebanese police officers rip down swaths of illegal mesh, hung between pomegranate and apple trees by the orchard's owner to ensnare thousands of these birds.

"This is a juvenile shrike on her first migration," Hirschfeld says, holding a songbird in his palm and using a penknife to gently cut away the plastic webbing that traps the bird's spindly legs. "This bird will have started her journey in Europe, traveling for thousands of miles on her way to Africa, before getting caught here."

Every year, someAmong them are

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