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Environmental NGOs raise alarm over illegal bird killings

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Hunting cartridges (Photo: BirdLife)

Environmental NGOs BirdLife and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) raised the alarm on the “repeated and illegal bird killings taking place around Lake Soros in Meneou.”

In a joint statement released on Tuesday, the NGOs said the area continues to be a blackspot for illegal bird killing despite repeated calls from environmental organisations for a hunting ban. 

“The list of protected species found shot in the area grows longer by the day,” the statement said. 

“So far this September alone, volunteers and members of staff of BirdLife Cyprus and CABS monitoring the site for illegal bird killing activity found many protected non-game bird species dead, including European Roller, Bee-eater, Golden Oriole, Eurasian Hobby and Crested Lark. All birds were illegally shot as shown by post-mortem x-rays.

“Shooting at protected non-game species takes place daily at this site. Observations by our volunteers show that hunters systematically target protected birds but there is never enough enforcement,” said CABS wildlife crime officer Bostjan Debersek.

“Last Sunday morning, only one patrol of the competent authority was available in the whole Famagusta and Larnaca districts, meaning it had to cover about 3000 square kms and thousands of hunters across the countryside.” 

Moreover, the two NGOs confirmed that safe distances from residential areas to Lake Soros are not respected, adding that the hunting site is close to the vulnerable Natura 2000 wetlands that are part of Larnaca Salt Lakes. 

“The illegal killing of birds at the site is only part of the conservation problem here. Dangerously high levels of lead have also been recorded in this area, even though legislation prohibits the use of lead pellet cartridges within 300 metres of wetlands and dams,” BirdLife campaign manager Tasos Shiallissaid. 

“At the same time, the proximity of the hunting area to residential areas raises public safety issues. These are serious and indisputable reasons for banning hunting at Lake Soros. It is high time the relevant authorities paid attention to this problematic area.” 

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