The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) on Wednesday demanded that the government restore the police anti-poaching unit after one of their volunteers was attacked by a criminal gang the previous night.
A volunteer from the non-government organisation was taken to Larnaca general hospital on Tuesday night after he was attacked by two members of a criminal gang from Vrisoulles while he was leading British bases police towards two illegal mist netting sites.
The attackers drove a car without a licence plate number.
According to CABS, who posted about the incident on their Facebook page, the attackers shouted death threats and punched the volunteer in the face in front of the police officers.
British bases spokesman Kristian Gray confirmed the incident and told Cyprus Mail both gang members were identified and arrest warrants have been issued.
“It is an ongoing investigation,” he said.
CABS director Alex Heyd on Wednesday complained that the Cypriot police are failing to stop the lucrative business of illegal bird trapping.
“We observe no rule of law in Cyprus with regard to bird trapping. In the last month we had trappers driving cars with fake or no number plates, trappers crossing illegally the border to trap in the area controlled by the Turkish army.”
Justice Minister George Savvides recently said the anti-poaching police unit was dismantled because there was not enough illegal activity for them to tackle.
To that statement, CABS replied: “This is a weird statement from the minister, how can you detect illegal activity if you never search for it?”
Heyd claimed the NGO had called the unit multiple times to report such cases and officers were rarely available on the field. Even so, the group have demanded the unit be reassembled.
“We can’t be the only one on the frontline or we will be always the only target of criminal trapping groups,” said CABS.
CABS said it had managed to detect 25 cases of bird trapping in the last two weeks, and reported two persons for illegal trapping and five persons for illegal hunting.
The fines range between €200 and €1,000, according to the Game and Fauna Service whose officers successfully caught the trappers red-handed.
Τhe Cyprus Hunters’ Party last Friday also called on the police to reinstate its anti-poaching unit saying its work was vital.
In contrast with CABS, Hunters’ Party argued the unit had provided an important service in curtailing poaching and stopping non-hunting criminal activity in areas such as the buffer zone.