Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has urged more protection and better enforcement against wildlife crimes, as a man was fined for threatening its volunteers.
In a written statement, CABS reiterated their request for the establishment of an anti-poaching police unit and an effective sanction system with stronger penalties, and a zero-tolerance approach to notorious professional trappers.
“In a situation where criminals profit from illegal trapping and defend their profits with violence, while CABS volunteers face increasing risks to protect wildlife, the government has the audacity to not only sit on the fence but to actively downsize and massacre the existing enforcement apparatus to the additional advantage of the lawbreakers,” they said.
The committee also asked for better protection for volunteers.
“We urge now the ministries and police headquarters responsible for law enforcement to take a strong position against wildlife crimes and against aggressive behaviours towards environmentalists”.
Their announcement came as man who had threatened two young female CABS volunteers back in September 2019 was sentenced to pay €350 on Monday by the Famagusta district court.
At the time of the incident, the environmentalists were walking on the road close to his former trapping site where they found several dead sparrows and chickens, CABS said.
The man confronted them and threatened to run them over with his vehicle.
The incident was one in a long series of attacks towards the international environmentalists, who are documenting the illegal trapping of protected wildlife on the island of Cyprus.
“In the last months alone, we have received a number of serious attacks” CABS investigations Officer Bostjan Debersek said.
“Last November one of our members was violently assaulted and left unconscious bleeding on the ground; in December a notorious trapper punched me after ‘manhandling’ a policeman and this January an unknown person put an explosive device on our car, that was parked in a busy residential area,” the CABS officer said.
And there were “countless times” when CABS members were surrounded, threatened and verbally abused by poachers and illegal hunters.
All incidents were reported to the police and investigations are ongoing to identify the culprits.
“The sentence of this week sends a clear message that violence… should not be tolerated but much more work needs to be done,” added Debersek.