Millions of birds, including threatened species such as turtle doves, are being unlawfully shot, trapped, poisoned or glued for food, sport, captured as caged birds or other reasons across the region, the assessment by Birdlife International reveals.
While some of the Mediterranean countries with the highest number of birds being killed each year are those hit by conflict, such as Syria and Libya, some European countries also feature high on the ranking of the top ten countries for illegal killing.
Italy comes second in the rankings, behind only Egypt, with an estimated 5.6m birds killed illegally each year, and more than two-fifths (43%) of the 348 species regularly found in Italy killed in significant numbers.
The Farmagusta area of Cyprus comes out as the worst place for illegally killing birds in the Mediterranean, while the British Territory in Cyprus is also affected, with the Dhekelia UK military base seeing hundreds of thousands of birds killed each autumn.
The Ministry of Defence has started a programme to remove illegally planted trees and shrubs in the area, which trappers use for cover and to lure birds in, the report said.
Greece, France, Croatia and Albania also feature in the top ten, and while Malta does not, it has the highest figure for the number of birds killed per square kilometre, on average 343, with hunters causing the deaths of 108,000 birds each year.
Tim Stowe, director of RSPB International, which plays a leading role in the Birdlife International partnership, said: “The illegal killing of tens of millions of birds around the Mediterranean, highlighted in this report, is a source of lasting shame.”