In a bid to highlight the practice of bird trapping in Cyprus, well-known British naturalist and anti-wildlife-crime campaigner Chris Packham has produced a documentary, which was released this week.
‘Cyprus: Massacre on migration’ is another reminder that the slaughter is rampant on the island.
An estimated 2.5m birds die every year in Cyprus as the result of being caught in nets or on lime sticks, far more than in all other European countries.
The short documentary is a touching account of Packham’s visit to Cyprus in autumn 2016 when he was involved in freeing birds from traps – an activity not without dangers.
The naturalist and a small group of activists from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (Cabs) moved at night because they didn’t want to meet any trappers.
“These guys are a bit more hardcore than the people we mixed with in Malta,” Packham explained. “Andrea and other members of Cabs have had their tires slashed, were shot at and even beaten with poles by the trappers.”
The reasons for this are explained in the documentary. For one, blackcaps are a delicacy in Cypriot restaurants which means there is a yearly profit of €15m.
“When there is money involved, there is organised crime,” the campaigner said. “That is why it is so dangerous – these people are proper criminals.”
He goes on to explain that there is also no political will to tackle the problem as a lot of votes are at stake while many politicians openly support the crime.
The best argument of the documentary is probably the filming of how the activists remove the little delicate birds from the nets, a painstaking task which takes several minutes for each bird.