Cypriot farmers receive thousands a year in compensation for the killing of livestock during military exercises carried out at the British bases.
The RAF base in Akrotiri appears to be the hotspot for the deaths of the animals, including unborn and baby goats, as British troops take part in military exercises in the area.
The military exercises have led to 1,764 animal loss claims in the last five years, resulting in over £8 million rewarded to claimants since 1995.
Just two years ago the ministry of defence (MOD) paid out nearly £750,000 in compensation to farmers to mainly settle 334 animal-loss claims.
In 2018 in one case alone, and apparently the costliest, a payout of £5,031 was made to a farmer to cover the cost “of abortions and associated vet fees” after a goat was killed by low-flying RAF aircraft.
According to Declassified, internal documents show that the MOD permitted aircraft to fly as low as 100 feet and knowingly caused deaths.
The process and timeframe for filing a claim is not immediately clear. It is understood that in some cases gathering evidence can be challenging.
“I know that sometimes vets get involved to investigate an incident and to ascertain whether the deaths were indeed a result of military exercises,” Akrotiri community leader George Stylianou told the Cyprus Mail.
He said that while deaths certainly do occur, they are not widespread – perhaps a few times a year – and authorities are generally good at paying out compensation.
“It’s not too common,” he said.
Officials from the bases confirmed that such incidents do occur.
“All military training and activity in the SBAs takes place under strict conditions with precautions taken to minimise risks. Where livestock is unfortunately affected, arrangements exist to fully compensates farmers,” an MOD spokesperson told the Cyprus Mail.
Reportedly over half the deaths occur near the Paramali river which lays within a wildlife protected area. The MOD itself describes it as containing some of “Europe’s most valuable and threatened species” such as falcons and kestrels.
“British Forces Cyprus has a proud environmental record which includes protecting thousands of wild flamingos, sea turtles, the only remaining Eleonora’s Falcons on the island and preventing illegal bird trapping. The Sovereign Base Area Police has made a significant difference – reducing songbird deaths by over 700,00 (three-quarters) since 2016,” the MOD spokesperson said.