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2.8 Million Wild Birds Trapped, Killed Illegally in 2011

songbirds killed in cyprus

Conservationists are warning of an ecological disaster after 2.8 million wild migratory birds were illegally trapped and killed during 2011.

BirdLife Cyprus has been monitoring bird trapping in Cyprus for five years. During winter, trappers mainly kill robins song thrushes, and in summer they trap other migratory birds, many of them rare and endangered.

The methods used to trap and kill the birds are cruel and illegal and in the end the birds are served surreptitiously on plates in restaurants, in one case, in its basement to avoid the authorities.

There was an alarming rise of 300 percent in the number of mist nets was recorded, a clear indication that trappers are no longer concerned by possible prosecution, said Birdlife.

During 2011 the first European conference on illegal bird killing organised in Larnaka. A ‘zero tolerance’ approach towards illegal bird killing and trapping was agreed by all participants including the relevant authorities, hunting associations and environmental NGOs.

"Unfortunately, the field data of 2011 reveal a completely contradictory picture to the ‘zero tolerance’ approach that was agreed, and immediate measures need to be taken to stop illegal bird trapping," said Birdlife.

In a statement from Germany, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Cyprus said that in just two weeks, CABS teams located 3,817 limesticks, 23 mist nets and 32 electronic decoys in the main trapping hotspot in Famagusta District.

"This contrasts sharply with the comparatively weak efforts of the law enforcement agencies in this critical area, where the pressure on migratory birds through illegal trapping is at its greatest," said CABS.

Limesticks were set out in almost every suitable location in the core area between Ayia Napa and Paralimni, while the number of illegal mist nets and electronic decoys were significantly higher, throughout the whole Famagusta district, than in spring. The conservationists provided the Cyprus Police and the Game Fund with all trapping data collated in their comprehensive data bank for further investigation and action, they said.

The Game Fund and the Anti-Poaching Squad of the Cyprus Police have considerably improved their efforts to combat illegal bird trapping problem, said CABS. Nonetheless, the report clearly shows that the official anti-trapping effort in the area east of Larnaca, including the British Sovereign Base Area of Dekeleia and the non-occupied area of Famagusta district was markedly less in comparison to other affected areas.

"It can only be concluded that political factors play a role in this case," said CABS.

Practical cooperation in the field with the responsible law enforcement agencies was very limited, said the conservationists.

"This is disappointing, as closer cooperation would have resulted in more prosecutions of poachers and official seizure of trapping equipment, as well as deterring aggression towards conservationists," said CABS.

The safety of volunteers gave grave cause for concern. The volunteers were forced to avoid particularly dangerous public areas, which gave the impression that criminal elements have established ‘no go’ areas where the rule of law is suspended for illegal bird trapping activities, said CABS.

The organisations are far from being deterred in their aims to monitor and expose illegal bird killing, and intend to conduct bird protection camps in the Republic of Cyprus in both spring and autumn this year, said CABS.

Contacts for further material and information: David Conlin, Board member for international affairs, Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS): Telephone: +49 1723946671 / Fax: +49 228 66 52 80 / Email: david.conlin@komitee.de

Photo: Birdlife - song thrush trapped in a mist net

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