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Saudi hunters' bird massacre sparks outrage in Morocco

Gulf tourists are keen hunters, and visit Pakistan and other Arab countries [Twitter]

Date of publication: 22 August, 2019

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Local Moroccans were left outraged after Saudi hunters 'massacred' thousands of game birds in violation of the North African country's hunting regulations.

Saudi hunters have outraged Moroccans after "massacring" thousands of game birds in violation of the North African country's hunting regulations.

Images of the group's haul of around 1,500 doves were widely circulated on social media earlier this month, prompting condemnation from the Moroccan National Hunting Society.

In one picture, ten hunters pose in front of a large pile of hundreds of birds killed earlier that morning near the tourist hub of Marrakech.

The National Hunting Society issued a statement accusing the tourists of committing a "massacre", local media reported.

Society member Ayoub Mahfoud told France24 that an employee of the group that organised the hunt had complained about the Gulf tourists grossly exceeding hunting quotas.

"He told me he had never seen such excess. He even admitted they had to hide some of the corpses in bags to avoid sanctions," Mahfoud said.

Local regulations stipulate that hunters' can shoot up to 50 doves in a day during their hunting season between June and August.

In videos uploaded by the group, some members can be heard boasting of shooting hundreds of birds in a single day.

In a statement to France24, one of the Saudi hunters denied breaking the law.

"None of us killed more than 50 birds. But I have been assailed with hate messages on Instagram and my mobile phone. This story has been taken out of proportion," he said.

Gulf tourists are keen hunters, and visit Pakistan and other Arab countries to shoot large game such as gazelle, deer and wildfowl.

The hunters often cause controversy in these countries, with reports abound of them flaunting local regulations and killing endangered species.

Much of the native wildlife in the Arabian Peninsula was killed off from hunting, particularly after the proliferation of rifles and the advent of off-road vehicles during the mid-20th century.

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