A total of 19 individuals were successfully convicted for offences committed in 2016 related to illegal bird trapping, BirdLife Cyprus has announced.
All 19 received fines, while seven of them also received suspended jail sentences
The last case with most severe sentences for two individuals included fines of €6,600 and €3,200 and a 20-month jail sentence suspended for three years for one of the two individuals.
“These are the most severe sentences for the 2016 operation. The same surveillance method was used in autumn 2017 and more cases are currently under investigation,” the announcement said.
In autumn 2016, the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) Police worked with specialist RSPB Investigations staff, with the support of BirdLife Cyprus, and installed covert cameras at several key illegal trapping hotspots on the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA) in Cyprus.
This was the first time this method of surveillance was used in Cyprus, the announcement said. The 19 individuals were the target of the surveillance.
“The shocking footage shows individuals removing the struggling birds from the mist nets then killing them with knives before tossing the bodies into buckets,” it added.
A report published by BirdLife Cyprus revealed that an estimated 800,000+ birds were illegally killed on the Eastern SBA area in Dhekelia in autumn 2016.
The overall estimate, including the Republic of Cyprus, climbs to 1.7 million birds illegally killed in autumn 2016.
The report for the autumn 2017 trapping season is due out in the next couple of months.
“Illegal bird trapping is a persistent problem and these court sentences recognise that this is a serious wildlife crime,” said the announcement.
BirdLife said that in addition to supporting covert surveillance in the SBAs, it would continue pushing hard for action against law-breaking restaurants in the Republic that sell illegally trapped birds and also with its systematic monitoring as well as education efforts in schools and beyond, with the aim of reducing the demand that drives the bird killing.