Birdlife Cyprus hopes to launch an awareness raising campaign against illegal trapping with donations it will receive from the birdwatching race Champions of the Flyway, which will take place in Eilat, Israel on March 25, in a show of support to the Cypriot organisation.
The selection of BirdLife Cyprus as the recipient is based the fact that the same migratory birds which transverse Cyprus, go on to Israel in the Autumn and the situation is reversed in the Spring.
The race Champions of the Flyway is taking place for the second consecutive year in Israel, with participating teams from all over the world. The race is a celebration of the miracle of migration and an effort to conserve and protect the migratory flyways of birds.
The BirdLife Cyprus team participating in the race will be competing against teams from all over the world. The team hopes by its participation to promote similar activities in Cyprus, as an alternative form of tourism and to highlight the benefits of this.
The race is taking place within the framework of the Eilat Bird Festival, which attracts tourists from all corners of the world to witness the migration. Cyprus could also be such a destination, Birdlife Cyprus said. However, due to the negative image that has been created as a result of illegal trapping, sensitised tourists choose other holiday destinations, it added.
Illegal trapping is a serious and persistent problem in Cyprus. The last report by BirdLife Cyprus on the illegal trapping of birds in autumn 2014 showed a dramatic situation with a death estimate of over two million birds. Illegal trappers aim to trap blackcaps, but due to the non-selective nature of the methods used, 152 species are affected, of which 78 are threatened.
BirdLife Cyprus is addressing the problem of illegal trapping on three levels: systematic monitoring since 2002, lobbying including the development of a Strategic Action Plan on a national level, and awareness-raising.
The aim of the awareness campaign, inspired by the 152 species affected by trapping, of which 78 are threatened, is for the public to recognise that many of these birds are part of everyday life. Such examples are, among others, the barn swallow, collared dove, common swift, barn owl, bee-eater, white wagtail, as well as endemic species Cyprus wheatear, Cyprus warbler and Cyprus owl, which is an endemic subspecies.
Teams participating in the race have 24 hours to record as many bird species as possible. Winners of the first race which took place in 2014, the Palestinian Sunbirders, recorded 169 different species. Regardless of which will be the winning team with the most bird species recorded, BirdLife Cyprus will be the recipient of the funds raised. (CNA)