Countries agree to cooperate to end the illegal trapping of protected bird species in Egypt and Libya
February 2014, Volume 12-1

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

The Egyptian Minister of Environment 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.

Read more at the website of UNEP.

By contrast, the price of 10-day camps has remained relatively stable, peaking at $10,229 on 2012 but dropping again in 2013. The gross income from the sale of trophies has declined from $383,235 in 2010 to $140,510 in 2012.  This decline can be most likely attributed to a lack of interest by the market combined with the reduction in the availability of key trophies such as lion, leopard, buffalo and elephant and the removal of plains game from the auction list.

Overall daily rate declined from $1,338 in 2010 to $1,023-$1,105 between 2011 and 2013. These rates are generally lower than representative rates achieved by the private sector for big game hunting. Overall the income to ZPWA has continued to decline year-on-year from $1,013,935 in 2010 to $698,610 in 2013.  This represents a significant drop in income from these auctions for the organization.

The average price for elephant has remained static at ~$15,000/trophy bull. Leopard and buffalo prices (~US$6,000) have remained above the market price offered in the private sector. Lion are not offered regularly in this auction format.  The price offered in 2013 (US$20,000) is 50% of that offered in 2010. The overall estimated gross income generated from Nyakasanga and Sapi is down on what was achieved since 2007 (US$1,274,288) and 2008 (US$1,082,336). The auctions discontinued offering minor species such as porcupine, bushpig, jackal, baboon and serval in 2012 but re-introduced some of these animals in 2013.

The question being asked is whether the Zambezi Valley Auction Hunts are losing their luster, and hence income for the ZPWZ.  The reasons for this are not immediately clear but no doubt could be identified through a survey of the clients that use this source of hunting.