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Cyprus Shame

Autumn 2007 worst for illegal bird trapping in four years…

Field data gathered under a continuing BirdLife surveillance programme showed that autumn 2007 was the worst autumn for illegal bird trapping in Cyprus for four years. An additional cause for concern is the overwhelming evidence of widespread availability of trapped birds (ambelopoulia) in local restaurants, selling for up to £3 (€5) per bird.

Net trapping and limestick use have shown a marked increase with an estimated 500,000 plus birds caught this autumn. The high price for ambelopoulia provides the main motivation for the hard-core of remaining trappers, and for the younger individuals now apparently joining their ranks. In many cases, authorities remove nets found at various locations, only for the trappers to put new ones up within days.

During a discussion of the trapping issue at the Berne Convention Standing Committee in Strasbourg in November, the Council of Europe’s senior official on Biodiversity, Eladio Fernandez-Galiano, said he had been offered ambelopoulia during a recent visit to Cyprus.BirdLife acknowledges the efforts of the Game Fund and SBA Police in trying to tackle resurgent trapping but the resources of these bodies are stretched. Action against restaurants appears to be sporadic, and the top-level political will needed to generate a concerted clampdown is absent. In addition to this, penalties handed down by courts for convicted trappers continue to be far from deterrent.

“The bird trapping picture emerging from 2007 is a grim one”, said BirdLife Cyprus executive director Martin Hellicar. ”The momentum generated by the 2001 Berne Convention recommendation and by Cyprus’s EU accession course now seems eroded.”

Illegal bird trapping in Cyprus is an indiscriminate practice that threatens many protected bird species and many bird species of conservation priority for the EU. The methods employed – limesticks and mist nets – are clearly outlawed under the Berne Convention, the EU Birds Directive and Cyprus law, because of their indiscriminate nature and mass killing potential.

4th July 2014