Thursday, November 13, 2014

Government of Saudi Arabia Expands Ban on Hunting Migratory Birds

Greater crested terns

The government of Saudi Arabia has recently restated the ban on hunting migratory birds that pass through the country in thousands towards Africa. Sources from the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) told Arab News that even though Saudi Arabia was free of the bird flu virus, it does not want to risk having the disease to reappear with the arrival of migratory birds. The ban is a deterrent action, considering the predominance of the disease in other parts of the world. Saudi Arabia is known to accommodate several thousand migratory birds that pass through the country in early winter and reappear as they make their way back north in the coming of spring. Most of the birds arrive from eastern and northern Europe and western Asia. They include cranes, falcons, flamingos, houbara bustards, passerines, pelicans, and turtle doves. Out of these birds, houbara bustards and falcons are among the preferred targets for hunters in Saudi Arabia. Different species of falcons include saker, green, and lanner falcons whose prices can vary from SR10,000 to SR100,000. The SWA has sent several teams to areas such as Al-Asfar Lake, Al-Hair in Riyadh, Domat Al-Jandal, the Farasan Islands, Jubail Marine Protected Area, and Wadi Al-Jazan to watch for any flaws among the birds.
Houbara bustard

It is very beneficial that the government of Saudi Arabia is implementing steps to ensure the survival of migratory birds arriving in the country while migrating to Africa. This action would not only help in keeping birds safe from human hunters, but allow birdwatchers to view them in peace. Furthermore, the prevention of hunting migratory birds indicates that Saudi Arabia cannot risk any chance of experiencing bird flu disease even though the country never had any prior history of the disease affecting its human or animal population. However, this movement by Saudi Arabia should also be taken by other countries as a step to prevent any unlawful hunting of migratory birds arriving onto their lands to either spend the winter or temporarily stay while migrating to their winter destinations. This would help in maintaining the survival of migratory birds countries, providing opportunities for birdwatchers to view the animals, and maybe also prevent the spread of bird flu in those countries.

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