Cyprus spring bird protection camp diary 2011
This year CABS spring bird protection camp on Cyprus takes place from 13 - 25 April 2011. A total of 13 conservationists from Cyprus, Germany and Italy are participating in the anti-poaching operations. They will search for illegal limestick and mist net installations in close cooperation with the Cyprus and British SBA police and the Game Fund. Our aim is to target as many such installations as possible for the law enforcement agencies so that poachers can be caught red-handed.
Our operations will be conducted with our partner organisations "Friends of the Earth Cyprus" and the Pro Biodiversity Foundation . The latter organisation is funding the majority of the operational costs.
We will report on the progress of our operations here. For security reasons - the poachers also use the internet - we will not publish the precise locations of our operations.
- Limesticks seized: 2,789
- Mist nets seized: 11
- Electronic decoys seized: 8
- Installations reported to police: 37
- Illegal shots registered: 29
- Poachers arrested: 2
- Last update: 25.04.2010
Today, the first day of our bird protection camp operations on Cyprus, a small team of 5 activists was deployed. Near the village of Agios Theodoros in Larnaca district they found an old, inactive, mist net from last autumn. Suddenly men appeared - suspected to be trappers - and menaced the Cypriot and Italian team members. The situation was defused after the arrival of the police.// In the afternoon, in the south of the island, 40 limesticks were found and dismantled in public land. A Thrush Nightingale was found alive on one of the sticky traps and was freed. A further 80 limesticks were left in position for police action. Despite our request for an immediate patrol the authorities deferred action until tomorrow.
Today the 5 CABS members in our advance party were on operations in the south-east corner of the island and found a total of 8 trapping sites. Five of the sites (including two fenced-in gardens) with some 200 limesticks were reported to the police and the Game Fund wardens, the 56 limesticks at the remaining sites were dismantled and destroyed. Several birds, including a Zitting Cisticola and a Spectacled Warbler were released unharmed. The CABS team managed to film a poacher collecting a mist net and the video material was passed to the police as evidence in prosecution proceedings.
Today three trapping sites were located in the south-east of the island. These included a fruit plantation and two fenced-in private gardens, containing a total of at least 100 limesticks. The traps were left in place for police action.
In the late afternoon a Game Fund patrol caught a poacher close to Paralimni. The site had been reported by a CABS patrol on 13 April. It is not known at this stage how many limesticks were seized. Stop Press: The Game Fund seized 103 limesticks and 3 dead birds.
In the course of the day more camp participants arrived on Cyprus. From tomorrow onwards 12 CABS members will be deployed on operations.
The three CABS teams deployed in the south-east of Cyprus put in a great deal of hard work today and located 16 trapping sites. The larger installations, clearly the work of professionals, were immediately reported to the police. At several small trapping sites CABS team dismantled 89 limesticks. More than 20 birds were freed unharmed including 1 Zitting Cisticola, 1 Nightingale and a Masked Shrike.
In the morning Game Fund officers found a poacher attending to 20 limesticks in his garden. This location had been passed on by CABS. The man was unfortunately let off with a warning. A CABS team checking the same garden that evening found that the man had set out 57 new limesticks.
The local Paralimni police also blotted their copybook today. A CABS team had located a trapping site in a garden with 15 limesticks and an electronic decoy. The police arrived and stood by and watched as the offender dismantled his decoy. The then seized only 5 of the 15 limesticks and left the site without further action. Subsequently the team went to the police station to lodge an official complaint against the poacher and complain about the lack of action by the police. The officer refused to accept the complaint and threatened and verbally abused the CABS team members. The situation was saved by the station commander, who had previously assured us of his support, and our complaint was finally accepted. A disciplinary complaint was registered against the officer.
Three teams were deployed today, one of then accompanied by a German film crew from Stern TV (RTL). Eight trapping sites were found with limesticks. Four large ones, with more than 50 limesticks each, were reported to the police for their action. Our teams dismantled 104 limesticks. In addition to several Blackcaps 2 Nightingales, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Zitting Cisticola and 1 Pied Flycatcher were freed. Near Paralimni a German CABS team were pursued by an aggressive group of poachers on motorcycles and only managed to shake them off by the skin of their teeth.
Between 01:00 and 05:00 hours, a CABS team carried out a joint patrol with the SBA police in the Sovereign Base area at Cape Pyla. Three electronic decoy devices were located. One tape recorder was switched off by a poacher and could not be found. Two others were seized by the SBA police.
Although spring hunting is banned, 6 shots were heard in the early morning hours near Ayia Napa.
Another eventful day on Cyprus. During the hours of darkness a CABS team led officers of the police Anti-Poaching Squad to three large trapping sites with more than 300 limesticks. One of the ambushes had to be called off in the early morning hours - the police dismantled 180 limesticks and freed several birds.
During the day three teams were again deployed in the south of the island. In contrast to the past few days nor so many trapping installations were found - only 7 sites with about 150 limesticks and preparations for mist nets. At the site where the Game Fund had let the poacher off with a warning (see Saturday) some 84 limesticks were set out, twice as many as before. The traps were dismantled by a CABS team. Another team found an aviary full of freshly-caught Wood Larks.
In the afternoon a serious incident occurred close to the popular tourist resort of Ayia Napa. A CABS team found two limesticks on public land and, as previously cleared with the police, removed them. Suddenly a muscular man with a club appeared and threatened and verbally abused the CABS members. Shortly thereafter three other men in pickups appeared at the scene and in an aggressive manner prevented the CABS team from leaving. They also demanded that the RTL film crew hand over their video material. The men were increasingly aggressive and stated openly that they were from the local mafia. In the meantime one of the CABS members managed to call the police who arrived before the situation went totally out of control. The officers were however very uncooperative and refused to search or identify the attackers. Our team lodged an official complaint.
Between 19:00 and 02:30 hours (19 April) Game Fund officers were led to a total of 16 trapping sites.
In comparison to yesterday it was pleasantly quite on Cyprus today. The weather was changeable and cool with storm gusts and thunder showers. Twelve CABS members were deployed. A few sites with limesticks were found in the south of the island close to Larnaca. Most of these were reported to the authorities and 99 of these brutal traps were dismantled. Directly on the coast, not far from the large hotel complexes, German team members were verbally abused but no physical violence was offered.
A CABS team found an aviary with freshly-caught larks.
As over the past few days, 12 members were today deployed in 4 teams in the south of the Republic. A total of 5 trapping sites with 126 limesticks were found. Because of the disappointing cooperation by the Cyprus police to date all traps were dismantled by our teams. Nine birds were released unscathed: 2 Blackcaps, 2 Pied Flycatchers, 1 Spanish Sparrow, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Nightingale and 1 Reed Warbler. The GPS coordinates of several sites that had been prepared for mist net trapping in autumn were recorded and will be checked by our teams again in September this year.
After dismantling a handful of limesticks one of our teams were followed by an enraged poacher in an off-road vehicle. He gave up the chase after some kilometres.
Illegal spring hunting on Cyprus began punctually at the start of Turtle Dove migration. Three shots were registered near Paralimni, 16 near Achna and 4 north of Ayia Napa.
During the morning the authorities were informed of further trapping installations that had been located by our teams in the past two days.
Maundy Thursday, 21.04.2011
We have a hard day’s work behind us. Between 02:00 hours at night and 20:00 in the evening four CABS teams were on operations in the south-east of the island.
During the night a joint CABS/SBA police patrol operated in the Cape Pyla area of the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA). The police and conservationists found 4 mist nets and an electronic decoy and together dismantled them. A further team of German and Italian CABS members found two mist net installations close to the Turkish occupied zone. They were left standing for police action.
During the day further areas in Famagusta District were monitored. A total of 8 installations with 2 mist nets and 214 limesticks were located and all were dismantled. $ Blackcaps, 2 Spanish Sparrows and a Wood Warbler were released unharmed. A man was observed setting out limesticks in the middle of the town of Ayia Napa. The location was reported to the police.
A strange encounter took place at Paralimni Lake. A poacher noticed four CABS members about to dismantle limesticks in his olive grove. The old man hurried over to them, dismantled the limesticks himself, and handed them over to the astonished activists! Hr either thought our people were from the police, and threrby hoped to getaway with a less severe penalty - or he wanted to avoid confrontation with our team. We did not report him to the police.
Good Friday, 22.04.2011
Three teams were deployed in unseasonable Easter weather (rain - 18° C). Although above all potentially dangerous areas were checked today all was relatively quiet. A CABS team dismantled 44 limesticks near Paralimni in which a Wryneck and a Collared Flycatcher had been caught. Near Ayia Napa a trapping installation for Bee-eaters was destroyed - 27 special apparatuses for limesticks were dismantled.
In the afternoon all three CABS teams led Game Fund patrols to selected, particularly large and dangerous trapping sites. With the energetic support of CABS members the officers seized 4 large mist nets, 77 limesticks and 2 electronic decoys. One Tree Pipit, 1 Garden Warbler, 4 Blackcaps, 2 Goldfinches, 2 Spanish Sparrows and a Cuckoo were freed. The Game Fund officers failed to catch a poacher by the skin of their teeth.
A hairy incident took place within the UN buffer zone between the Turkish occupied zone and the Republic as 9 poachers in off-road vehicles and on motorcycles approached us. As they noticed the Game Fund officers they withdrew. The situation would assuredly have escalated had the officers not been present.
During the digitalisation of the results of our Cyprus operations we have discovered an inaccuracy in the number of limesticks dismantled: The total up to this date is 1.310 and not 1,236.
Easter Saturday, 23.04.2011
Today began the consolidation stage of our bird protection camp. All trapping installations reported to the authorities up until now will be visited in the next couple of days and, if no action has been taken by the law enforcement agencies, all illegal nets, limesticks and other trapping equipment found will be removed and destroyed.
Today the local police from Paralimni and Game Fund wardens were available to support us for part of the time, at least to provide our teams with the necessary protection in the most dangerous locations. A total of 316 limesticks, a mist net, poles for a further net and an electronic decoy were found and seized at 12 trapping sites. Two Blackcaps, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Garden Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Reed Warbler and 1 Olivaceous Warbler could be freed from the traps unharmed
At several locations in the Paralimni area small but not serious incidents occurred. A few angry, club-swinging poachers appeared and there was a short chase after one of our teams.
Several large trapping installations that had been reported to the police earlier were empty of traps today, without any action on the part of the authorities. Whether the poachers had removed the limesticks due to the bad weather, the Easter holiday, or they had been warned can no longer be established. Game Fund officers informed us that they had yesterday morning ambushed a trapping site reported to them by CABS in order to catch the poacher red-handed. As no one showed up they dismantled the 60 limesticks.
Easter Sunday, 24.04.2011 The four teams deployed today achieved a record day’s haul of limesticks. In Famagusta District 9 trapping sites were located. All 319 limesticks and an electronic decoy found in these locations were dismantled. The team deployed to the Limassol area made a major find - by chance! The three German activists ‘stumbled upon’ a professional limestick factory. All 457 traps found at the site were destroyed. In addition the team dismantled a further 239 limesticks in unfenced orange and olive groves.
In the night to Easter Monday trapping installations around Paralimni, which were too dangerous to approach by day, were checked. Some 68 limesticks were dismantled. Because of Easter celebrations, a major holiday and religious feast on Cyprus, the countryside was relatively quite so that no significant incidents took place.
The total limestick haul for the day reached 1,083. We have never found so many in one day during our previous bird protection camps on the island - a gratifying and morale-boosting result, and a satisfactory end to this year’s spring camp.
The final report will be published in May.