By Staff Reporter
Following a BirdLife report earlier this month that the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA) was a hot spot for bird trapping, two other groups have released similar findings showing that the illegal activity was three times higher than in the Republic.
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the Foundation Pro Biodiversity (SPA) have released two new field reports for their Autumn 2014 and Winter 2014/2015 Bird Protection Camps (BPCs).
CABS said that according to winter monitoring data and considering that the territory of the British ESBA covers an area of about 81 square km, whereas the two districts of Larnaca and Famagusta cover some 1,100 square km (200 in Famagusta and around 900 in Larnaca), the British ESBA had on average an active trapping site each 2.5 square km, whereas the Republic of Cyprus had an active trapping site each 35 square km.
In other words, they found a mist net each 0.8 square km in the territory of the British ESBA, whereas in Famagusta district there was a mist net each three square km and Larnaca district had one mist net each 39 square km.
“Therefore, the density of trapping sites and single mist nets in the British ESBA was three times larger than in the Republic of Cyprus, while the average number of mist nets per trapping site was also higher in the British ESBA than in any other part of the island,” CABS said.
After the BirdLife report was released, the bases acknowledged there was a problem but said they were doing their best on limited resources.
CABS said all of the trapping sites that were visited this winter and where trappers were prosecuted in the past, were found active once again.
“The British ESBA showed once more to be by far the worst hotspot for bird trapping in Cyprus (and probably in the whole of Europe),” said CABS
“Little or no effect of prosecutions on trapping activity was also observed in autumn 2014. Beside regular arrests of trappers, fines and penalties imposed by the Courts must be significantly increased in order to be deterrent,” the group added.
During the 26 days of the Autumn campaign, 3,950 limesticks, 116 mist nets, 35 decoys and 13 steel traps were seized and 27 persons prosecuted.
In 2015, the 1st Winter BPC was conducted over a period of 10 days, from January 21 to February 1 during which a total of eight volunteers from Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Slovenia participated in the camp.
This time CABS and SPA volunteers conducted joint monitoring work in the field with both the Cyprus Police APS and the APU of the British ESBA Police. During seven joint days, 30 trapping sites were visited with the escort of police patrols and 16 of them were found active. Overall, 57 mist nets and 10 decoys were seized and three persons prosecuted.
CABS called on the bases and the Republic to do more to ensure a long-term plan to combat illegal trapping such as adopting a zero-tolerance policy, increasing patrols, fines and penalties and to publish results periodically.