Morocco Turtle Dove Shooting


The Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur is one of our most iconic summer visitors and is under serious threat. This once frequent summer visitor to the UK is experiencing a catastrophic decline that could see it facing global extinction in the very near future. This species is being hit hard on the breeding grounds (mainly by lack of food for its young), wintering grounds and during migration (the bird is widely hunted across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East).

I was both shocked and devastated to discover that a chartered surveyor and sporting agency based in the UK is currently advertising a shooting trip to Morocco specifically to shoot Turtle Doves. The company involved is Davis and Bowring Chartered Surveyor and Land, Sporting and Estate Agents. In their text they state the following:

Numbers shot are carefully controlled to maintain a healthy wild population.

Given the serious threats to Turtle Dove populations globally this is of course not only inaccurate, but impossible!

If you are as disgusted about this as me, I would urge you to lodge your opposition via email to


More information about the issues impacting Turtle Doves and the work being done to save them can be found on the multi-agency website at




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About the author

I'm a birder and twitcher with a general interest in natural history (dragonflies, butterflies and orchids in particular) but most of all I am a passionate conservationist with a particular affiliation to Turkey. Having worked as a Ranger/Naturalist at a range of nature reserves throught the UK I now work as a freelance ecologist and writer.


  1. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  2. Sarah Bell says:

    Thanks for highlighting this. I’m shocked and saddened that a UK firm can offer this as a ‘holiday’. I am sending them an email expressing my utter disgust at this.

  3. Phoned Davis Bowring this morning to complain personally about their advertised Turtle Dove Shoot and was told by an embarrassed employee that it’s been cancelled.
    Hurrah for People Power!

  4. Richard Winspear says:

    Well done for putting a stop to this completely irresponsible ‘sport’

  5. Charlie Moores says:

    A huge thanks to everyone who was as angered/shocked by us to learn about this and immediately retweeted and emailed D&B – if the trips are stopped it’s YOU who deserve the credit :)

  6. It’s clear that this is a big European problem, mainly created by too many hunters who can’t wait to get started when the hunting season begins. During the spring migration I talked to a paid Turtle Dove observer at Tarifa working for the local Turtle Dove Hunting association. He was complaining about the lack of sightings of migrant Turtles coming in across The Strait. I explained that large syndicates from France, UK, Italy, Belgium…the list goes on, were systematically killing migrating birds in various locations along the estuaries and deltas of the country’s 1,100 km coastline Morocco during spring.
    You can search youtube for ‘ La chasse Maroc’ and you’ll see it’s not only doves. Anything goes beacuse it’s business and people pay a lot of money. More Moroccan hunters are buying shotguns and going out and killing wildife as well… This is a huge problem and is causing the decline of a lwhole range of species.
    In one video ( you can see a falconer’s bird taking a Stone Curlew… It’s just crazy. Go further south in Africa and the locals in W African coastal villages cannot catch enough fish from their small canoes to provide food for their extended families because trawlers from all large nations are illegally ‘hovering’ up all the coastal fish they rely on. Consequently migrating swallows and martins are caugh with fly-fishing lines by locals and eaten as there is little other food.
    When people tell you our swallows didn’t return this year… you can explain one possible reason for their absence.

  7. Phil says:

    Am I right in thinking commiting certain crimes abroad can be prosecuted here in the UK? If so does the shooting of Turtle Dove qualify and the aiding and abetting thereof?

  8. Charlie says:

    Phil, as far as I’m aware it’s not illegal in Morocco as the country is not bound by European law. As Stephen Daly notes in his comment this is a huge problem that will likely only get worse as the human population grows and revenue from tourism and agriculture falls away ( This – again – is what makes Davis & Bowring’s cynical exploitation of Turtle Doves all the more disagreeable: the doves are facing immense hunting pressure and lack of food and water as it is – sending British ‘hunters’ to join in the ‘fun’ is totally irresponsible.

  9. colin maxwell says:

    as far as i am aware malta and cyprus ara bound by european law but that does not stop them shooting and trapping eellover a million birds a year i have wrote to the minister madam benkhadra and pointed out that shooting this bird when it is breedind is madness if anyone wants to write here is the adress ministry of the environment 9 avenue alaraar secteur 16 hay riad rabat.10000 morocco

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