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Words Bassam Alkantar

The use of traditional plastic wad components in gun cartridges can have a devastating impact on wildlife and the environment. Each year, one million birds die from lead poisoning in Europe. Many iconic species, such as the Tundra Swan, the White-tailed Eagle, and the Greater Flamingo, perish after ingesting lead shots from expended ammunition cartridges.

In Lebanon, the situation is much worse. Forty million cartridges are imported each year, 18 million of these are re-exported to neighboring countries and 19.5 million are used for hunting. The remaining number is used for target practice. Moreover, seven million cartridges are locally manufactured. The shooting success is estimated to be one per seven cartridges. Therefore, it is estimated that 2.79 million birds are shot per year.

Hunters leave 600 tons of lead and millions of empty plastic cartridges behind in forests, wetlands, rivers, and mountains.
Plastic-made components, used by the hunting community, are highly toxic. They can cause ecological damage to the environment and can kill animals that might eat them after the pellets have been fired. To tackle this ecological issue, Live Lebanon UNDP, Live Love Volunteer, and Live Love Beirut’s Volunteering Program organized a cleanup day, which was in collaboration with the National Commission For Lebanese Women in Eghbeh and Amaz, Keserwan area. They managed to collect thousands of empty shot cartridges that hunters left behind. Lebanese Olympics Trap Shooting Champion, Ray Bassil, Head of the National Committee for Lebanese Women, Claudine Aoun Roukoz, Lebanese Champion, Silvio Chiha, as well as volunteers from Jordan, Libya, Germany, and Tunisia joined the initiative. All the cartridges are placed in a warehouse and will soon be recycled.

According to Rawad Rizk, Live Lebanon UNDP Project Manager, this initiative is just the beginning. The Project supports proper hunting law enforcement through working with local communities, which aim at changing attitudes and behaviors toward hunting.

We need to reach an ideal situation, whereby all hunters pick up the cartridges during their hunting trips. Consequently, this initiative necessitates the development of a new hunting law decree.