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Official - Even the Cypriots Hate Cypriot Bird Trapping

The Overwhelming Majority of Cypriots Disapprove of Songbird Slaughter

Almost nine out of ten (88 per cent) of Cypriots disapprove of the illegal capture of songbirds, including robins, which are trapped each autumn and spring to be served up as expensive delicacies in local restaurants.

The market research [an opinion poll that was conducted by RAI Consultants between August 22 and 26, 2005, in which the pollsters randomly selected 568 people aged over 18, who were interviewed by telephone.], funded by the RSPB, follows a concerted programme by the Society to clamp down on illegal trappers. Field work, run in conjunction with the RSPB’s partner on the island, BirdLife Cyprus, has helped spare the lives of an estimated 20 million songbirds since autumn 2002 by encouraging enforcement authorities, including the UK forces responsible for the island’s two large UK Sovereign Base Areas (at Akrotiri and Dhekelia), to clamp down on trappers.Trapping has been illegal on Cyprus for over three decades but, despite the direct intervention of RSPB and BirdLife Cyprus, it is believed that hundreds of thousands of birds are still slaughtered every year driving a trade providing tavernas with the delicacy, ambelopoulia. It is believed that each bird can fetch nearly £2 in this lucrative market.

Graham Wynne, the RSPB’s Chief Executive, said: “It is clear that illegal bird trapping must cease. The majority of islanders, strongly supported by the Cypriot government, clearly want this practice to end. Regrettably, the activities of a tiny minority of die-hard isolated hunters continue to bring shame on the island and one of the European Union’s newest members. Bird trapping on Cyprus is an emotive issue for many of the RSPB’s one million members and has been a long-running campaign for the Society. The thought that bird trapping on Cyprus is drawing towards a long-overdue demise will bring much satisfaction to the thousands who have sought its cessation.”Research shows that up to 100 species of birds are regularly killed by bird trappers. Robin and blackcap, a sparrow-sized warbler, are among the most common targets. Indiscriminate trappers, using lime sticks and mist nets, also kill other birds, including owls and bee-eaters, regularly. The Cyprus Government and BirdLife Cyprus are officially launching a joint anti-bird trapping publicity campaign, including the distribution of a leaflet prepared jointly by BirdLife Cyprus, the Game Fund and police.

The market research shows that demand for ambelopoulia is still strong. Half of those polled have tried the delicacy and around one in seven (14 per cent) regard ambelopoulia as their favourite bird dish. Two per cent of islanders claim to eat the dish regularly.Martin Hellicar, of BirdLife Cyprus, said: “With the demand still strong, we want no let-up in the clampdown on illegal trapping, tough action against restaurants serving ambelopoulia and truly deterrent penalties imposed by courts for bird-trapping offences.

When Cyprus joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, the majority of bird hunting became illegal under the European Union Birds Directive.

4th July 2014