Illegal bird trapping levels remain tragically high

(Birdlife Cyprus, 16 March 2017)

With 2.3 million birds estimated to have been killed in Cyprus in autumn 2016, BirdLife Cyprus highlights the urgent need for action by both the Cyprus Government and the SBA Administration.

The latest findings of the BirdLife Cyprus surveillance programme show that 21km of mist net rides were active during autumn 2016 within the survey area, which covers the Larnaka-Famagusta and the Ayios Theodoros-Maroni areas. Based on the data gathered systematically in the field, BirdLife Cyprus estimates that nearly 2.3 million birds could have been killed across the whole of Cyprus in autumn 2016. Illegal bird trapping is a serious and persistent problem both in the Republic of Cyprus and the SBAs. In the Republic, the use of limesticks is widespread and there are restaurants illegally offering ambelopoulia, while in the SBAs there is extensive mist netting activity and widespread use of calling devices to draw in birds to their death.

The extensive and widespread use of mist nets is further verified by enforcement statistics, where for the months August to October 2016 more than 850 mist nets were confiscated by the competent authorities, the highest number confiscated in the last 6 years. With regards to limesticks, more than 3,500 were confiscated by enforcement agencies.

This wildlife crime is taking place both in the Republic of Cyprus and the SBAs, making it very clear that a joint effort is necessary to address this persistent issue. In particular, within the Dhekelia SBA area, mist netting activity remained around record levels last autumn, with Cape Pyla recorded as the worst trapping location for mist nets in Cyprus. Furthermore, other developments highlight the lack of political will on the part of  the Republic of Cyprus to take serious action to tackle this persistent problem. In addition to the inclusion of the ‘alternative plan’ to the Strategic Plan for the ‘selective hunting of blackcaps by derogation’ in 2015, the Game and Fauna Service has proposed a catastrophic law amendment, introducing a series of relaxations and loopholes in the existing legislative framework.

Martin Hellicar, Director of BirdLife Cyprus, stated: “The proposals included in the amendment would be completely counterproductive to anti poaching and illegal bird trapping efforts and we call the plenary of the Cyprus Parliament to vote against this bill.

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