Saturday, 18 April 2009

A hunter's tale

Part of promoting conservation here has always been talking to as many locals as possible. This time we were told of a prolific hunter who may be willing to meet us. A few phone calls later and it was arranged. We went to a darkened apartment block and were met by a larger than life friendly character who showed us his collection. Quite a revelation, with all manner of species stuffed and an ammo collection a small army would be proud of.

Species investigation gets underway

Among them were two Red-breasted Geese that we ascertained were the first and only Syrian records, having been shot in Feb 2007.

Red breasted geese and a red faced Maggs

The hunter was well aware that his pastime is technically illegal, but as he said it isn’t policed. He clearly had an intimate knowledge of his quarry and showed us many of the species he sees from our European Field Guide. He had never seen a bird book before, but was interested in their status, distribution etc. He suggested off his own back that something more practical, such as a permit system needs to be implemented, rather than an unworkable blanket ban. We left after several glasses of Arak as friends and with a better understanding of each others positions, and an agreement that no more White headed Ducks, Marbled Teal or Red breasted Geese would ever be shot by him now that he knew their significance.

White fronted geese and Ruddy shelduck massacre