Cyprus Mail

Government urged to follow bases’ success against bird trapping

British bases' police and RSPB officials in action last year (Guy Shorrock)

While bird trapping with mist nets in the British bases decreased by 90 per cent in 2018 compared to 2002, an all-time low, bird trapping elsewhere in Cyprus has increased.

According to a statement by BirdLife Cyprus on Monday, an estimated 335,000 birds were trapped in the nets last autumn.

The welcome low has been achieved mainly due to the progress within the Dhekelia base over the last two years, one of the main trapping hotspots of the island, the NGO said.

Reed Warbler in mist net © BirdLife Cyprus

“While the big picture is one of welcome success and relief for Europe’s migrant birds, the increase in killing with mist nets in the republic recorded in autumn 2018 (with limestick use also remaining a widespread problem) warns us to keep our feet on the ground,” the statement said.

BirdLife Cyprus said that the positive results of autumn 2018 were primarily due the bases’ multi-pronged approach to stamp out the practice within their jurisdiction.

They have increased police patrols, introduced deterrent sentencing for trappers, enabled covert surveillance work and continued operations targeting acacia trees which are used for putting up mist nets.

BirdLife Cyprus acknowledged government efforts to battle the illegal trapping and killing of birds, but says the increase reflects on the dynamics of the trapping culture in Cyprus, but is also a reminder that the problem is not yet solved.

“The sour note is this year’s increase in trapping levels within the republic. We are pushing for the adoption of a much stronger collaborative approach with NGOs, to avoid a reversal of the progress achieved in previous years,” said Martin Hellicar, director of BirdLife Cyprus.

He explained the main killing season is autumn, when the law-breaking trappers are after Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla to be sold as illegal but highly lucrative ambelopoulia ‘delicacies’. Lack of enforcement against the illegal sale of trapped birds in restaurants and against big organised trappers remain persistent problems.

The organisation called on the government to step up efforts and adopt a similar approach to the British bases police.

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