Illegal Trapping of Birds along Egypt’s Coasts 


Trapping of millions of birds in Egypt threatens European bird populations

Migratory murder on Egypt's coast

May 2013. Disturbing evidence has emerged from the Mediterranean coast of Egypt: Bavarian Broadcasting have documented a total of 700 kilometres of nets set to catch birds. The birds are then offered as a delicacy in markets and restaurants across Egypt.
The nets are very difficult to avoid for many migratory birds as they form a barrier across their flight path either across the Mediterranean or the Sahara when they are looking for a place to rest. The exact number of birds caught in this way can only be estimated, but experts believe that tens of millions are killed each year.

That songbirds are on the menu (and targeted by many hunters) in many countries of southern Europe and North Africa is nothing new. The existence of fishing nets on the coast of Egypt has long been known, but what is new is the scale of netting, which now extends from Libya across almost the entire coastline of the Egypt to the Sinai - interrupted only in a few places by military installations or major cities.

Catching birds in Egypt threatens European populations

This form of bird trapping is mostly illegal in Egypt; there are statutory requirements for minimum distances between the nets and maximum stipulated heights but these are largely ignored. Egypt has also signed international agreements on the protection of birds, but the resulting rules are not enforced at all.
Lars Lachmann, bird expert of NABU (NATURE AND BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION UNION, one of the oldest and largest environment associations in Germany.) states that the implications of bird trapping in Egypt to the European breeding population are not good: "The majority of our species are suffering from habitat loss and climate change; species such as willow warbler, nightingale, wheatear and nightjar will be adversely affected by the massive catch in Egypt."

Help the fight against this trapping

Any donations will go to NABU's partner organization "Nature Conservation Egypt" to enable it to campaign locally, through regular monitoring of the extent of bird trapping and also to develop specific projects to prevent bird trapping.

Countries agree to cooperate to end the illegal trapping of protected bird species in Egypt and Libya

Countries agree to cooperate to end the illegal trapping of protected bird species in Egypt and Libya

Thu, Dec 5, 2013
International Coordination Meeting Agrees on Plan of Action to Address the Issue of Bird Trapping Along the Mediterranean Coasts of Egypt and Libya

Bonn, 5 December 2013 - The Government of Egypt, in cooperation with Germany, Switzerland and other partners, has pledged to assess and further address the issue of unregulated hunting and bird netting practices along the Mediterranean coast of Egypt.
The agreement came as top-level officials from those countries joined representatives from the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and its relevant Agreements, NGOs and key wildlife experts at a one-day meeting at the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany on 29 November.

The meeting, organized and facilitated by the UNEP-administered Secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) and sponsored by the Government of Germany, sought to take stock of available data on the issue of bird netting.

It resulted in a Plan of Action agreed by all stakeholders, which aims to ensure that the practice of bird trapping in Egypt and Libya is both sustainable and legal, and calls for efforts to better understand current trends in hunting and trapping.
Egyptian Minister of Environment, Laila Iskandar, said, "The Egyptian Government is working towards strengthening the enforcement of domestic laws which limit hunting and stipulate specifications for the nets so as to leave openings for bird species to complete their migration cycle. At the same time, Egypt welcomes cooperation with international partners to improve and strengthen enforcement and further assessments."

"The Egyptian Government, in cooperation with its Swiss counterpart, is currently carrying out a study to fill in gaps in current data. The problem of hunting birds has other socio-economic dimensions and we need to work with local communities to find alternative livelihood activities for those who have traditionally relied on bird hunting as a source of income," she added.

The hunting and trapping of migratory birds in Egypt and Libya - in particular through the use of mist nets along vast stretches of the Mediterranean coast - have become issues of growing public concern in a number of countries. Despite the presence of a number of regulatory frameworks, the challenge lies in the proper enforcement of these regulations.

The agreed Plan of Action includes four main objectives, ranging from increasing knowledge on the scale, impact, socio-economic and legal aspects of bird trapping, to ensuring that effective legislation and regulations are in place and being adequately enforced.

The plan also includes elements on building capacity of local Government, NGOs and local communities to effectively address the bird trapping issue as well as to increase awareness and promote bird conservation in both countries and internationally.

"The action points which were identified in Bonn are targeted and clear", said CMS Executive Secretary Bradnee Chambers. "We now have a strong basis for effective and coordinated actions on the ground in the months and years to come."

He added: "The agreement of the Plan of Action is a sterling example of collaboration between diverse partners under the auspices of an environmental convention. It proves that we can work together in a way that not only brings together the efforts of stakeholders, but actually amplifies them."

Quail catching in Egypt is a traditional form of hunting that takes place during the autumn season every year. Under the Egyptian law, licenses are issued to local communities to catch quail. In recent years, however, the number of quail around the world has been seen to decline due to hunting and a number of other factors - including pollution, habitat destruction, poisoning and climate change.

While quails themselves are not endangered, their hunting frequently results in the bycatch of many more non-huntable and protected species.

The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), a German environmental NGO, recently helped to raise awareness of the issue of illegal and indiscriminate trapping through a petition of 115,000 signatures. NABU has also made a commitment to continue to support and implement the agreed Plan of Action with part of the funds it raised in the recent campaign.

For more information:


think global, act local
you are here: Home  > Spotlights > Illegal Trapping of Birds along Egypt’s Coasts