By Staff Reporter
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the and the Foundation Pro Biodiversity (SPA) have accused the Cypriot authorities of not only turning a blind eye to illegal trapping but of hindering anti-trapping attempts.
The accusation was made in the Cyprus Autumn 2013 Bird Protection Camp field report, released on Monday.
The two organisations said that “zero tolerance policy” against songbird poaching should not be just a rhetorical political statement, but an actual, consistent and permanent effort by the competent political authorities and law enforcement agencies to protect wild bird species and populations from the use of non-selective and large-scale trapping and killing methods, as well as to ensure environmental justice by combating wildlife crime in Cyprus.
In 2013, the 4th Autumn Bird Protection Camp (BPC) was conducted over a period of three weeks, from September 20 to October 13.
A total of 15 volunteers, from Cyprus, Germany, Italy, Hungary, England, Slovenia and Switzerland participated in the camp. Despite the fact that CABS volunteers did not received any operational support by the Cyprus police, they were able to monitor 176 trapping sites, in which they located, recorded and dismantled 4,419 limesticks, 60 mist nets and 85 electronic decoys. Furthermore, some 300 limesticks were seen, but left in fenced private properties, while 51 more electronic decoys were located exactly, but left on spot either because they were found in fenced private properties or for reasons of volunteers’ security.
“Despite all efforts made by CABS to restore the joint operations and the positive statements made by the justice ministry to again deploy a patrol of the Anti-Poaching Squad (APS) to assist volunteers, CABS did not receive any formal reply from by the scheduled date of the Autumn BPC,” a statement said.
“In contrast, by the end of the BPC, CABS teams had received the negative response of the Cyprus police headquarters and consequently they had not received any help at all by the responsible law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Cyprus, whose attitude resembled a boycott of the field survey and anti-poaching campaign.”
Until spring 2013, BPCs were conducted with the full knowledge of, and in close cooperation with, all responsible public authorities and law enforcement agencies. In spring 2013, after the initial successful operations and a number of prosecutions in the main trapping area of Famagusta district, trappers began to create political pressure in the major trapping hotspot of Paralimni.
“As a result, the cooperation between CABS and the competent law enforcement agencies of the Republic of Cyprus was “temporarily” suspended by the newly appointed Minister of Justice and Public Order,” the statement said.
CABS and SPA said they considered this boycott to be part of a wider strategy of the responsible political authorities of the Republic of
Cyprus to hinder anti-trapping operations and turn a blind eye to the trappers. Songbird poachers took advantage of this political choice of tolerance: trapping again reached extremely high levels, while trappers observed no fear of prosecution and demonstrated extreme violence towards anybody trying to disrupt the illegal but lucrative trapping
Activities, the statement added.
“With no police deployed on the ground against bird trapping, and only two Game Fund patrols… trappers enjoyed an almost complete
Impunity,” it said.
“Last but not least, the trappers’ lobby is already in the process of being officially registered and recognised as an “association demanding the legalisation of traditional and sustainable [sic] hunting methods”, such as limesticks. Every step forward made in previous years to implement the zero tolerance policy was ignored: this was “Cyprus in Year Zero”. The organisations also said there were also alarming signals from the British Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA), where trapping was as widespread as usual. The lack of political will and the yielding to the demands of trappers was the common denominator both for the Republic of Cyprus and the British ESBA, the statement added.