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The Middle-East – a sink for vultures

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The news coming from the Middle–East – particularly during these days – are usually grim and negative. Devastating wars, terrible human tragedies. Unfortunately the situation regarding nature conservation is not more positive – the Middle East continues to be an immense killing field for many birds. Widespread, uncontrollable, often illegal and indiscriminate hunting does on in most countries. As a result, the region has lost most of its breeding large raptors – vultures for example are now exceedingly rare outside Israel.

Every migration season, we are faced with a large mortality of migrating vultures when passing through the region – Egyptian vultures, griffon vultures and even the odd vagrant black vulture are killed. The latest example comes from Jordan, where this wing-tagged griffon was killed, with the video appearing in a large number of social media outlets.

According to staff from the Israel Nature & Parks authority, this bird hatched in 2008 and was wing-tagged on 15/09/2008 in Ramon crater. For nearly 5 years it was observed many times within the country, in the desert and Mediterranean area, but was eventually killed in nearby Jordan.

The VCF and other organizations have been trying to empower regional nature conservation NGOs in those counties to deal with the issue of widespread illegal hunting, but the scale, impact and roots of the problem are so vast and complex that only multilateral, decisive programmes will be able to tackle it in any sustainable and decisive way. Considering the challenges currently present in the region, this has not been (understandably) a priority, but in the meantime the skies (even in Europe) are getting emptier.

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