By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) is involving hunters in its efforts to preserve wildlife, particularly globally threatened birds, conservationists said on Thursday.

With over 4,000 registered hunters in Jordan, conservationists believe raising their awareness of globally threatened species and the importance of abiding by hunting regulations is vital for the success of their conservation efforts.

“We are in the process of meeting with hunters from different parts of the country to communicate with them and make sure that their hunting activities are sustainable and do not threaten wild animals and birds,” said Abdul Razzaq Hmoud, the national component manager of an RSCN project for the conservation of migratory soaring birds along the Rift Valley/Red Sea Flyway.

He underscored that hunters are partners in the RSCN’s conservation programmes.

“We met last week with around 300 hunters in the northern Governorate of Irbid, briefed them on endangered species and listened to their suggestions in order to arrive at sustainable hunting practices,” Hmoud told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The hunters came up with several suggestions, such as opening the pigeon hunting season earlier in the year, while at the same time avoiding disturbing them during mating season.

They also urged the RSCN to facilitate procedures to obtain hunting licences by issuing them at municipalities and to allow hunting in selected locations east of the Hijaz Railway, which is considered an off-limit area to hunters because animals and birds in the area are rare.

“A committee has been formed to act as a link between the hunters in Irbid and the RSCN, which is studying the hunters’ demands,” Hmoud said, noting that similar meetings will be held soon with hunters across the country.

He highlighted that cooperation of hunters in the north, especially in Irbid, is vital in order to protect the unique ecosystem of the Yarmouk Nature Reserve, which is categorised as a bottleneck site for soaring birds.

The Rift Valley-Red Sea route is the world’s second most-used flyway, with more than 1.5 million birds crossing it during migration seasons in spring and autumn.

Migratory birds in the southern hemisphere use the route to return to Europe and the northern hemisphere in the spring. On the way, they stop over in places like the Jordan Valley to rest and drink water.

A total of 37 types of migratory soaring birds, which maintain flight by using rising air currents, travel on the Rift Valley-Dead Sea Flyway annually, according to the RSCN.

At least five of these are globally endangered, such as white and black storks, buzzards, eagles and vultures.

There are 7,000 hunters in the Kingdom, 3,000 of whom are not registered with the society, the RSCN said. The location of hunting activities changes according to the season, with hunters mainly active in the Jordan Valley, mountainous areas and the eastern desert, according to the society.