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Cyprus: success in small doses

Blackcaps are one of the species most coveted by the poachers on Cyprus (© G. Holler/Wikimedia Commons)Blackcaps are one of the species most coveted by the poachers on Cyprus (© G. Holler/Wikimedia Commons)Success in the struggle against poaching of migrant birds on Cyprus can be measured in small doses. Bird trapping and hunting are so deeply rooted among the population that real progress will take some considerable time. Among the positive developments in our campaign so far are:

• Due to the pressure from conservationists fewer limesticks are set out in the open countryside. Traps are found outside private properties are now usually active for only a few hours in the early morning and evening. This means that the total area where trapping takes place is markedly smaller and the traps are active for a much shorter period.

• Since Cyprus’ accession to the EU in 2004 bird reserves have been established where hunting is forbidden.

• In the British Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) the British military administration is active in combating poaching. The SBA police have a small unit devoted to anti-poaching operations and have carried out large scale raids on trapping sites with military support. The cooperation between the SBA police and CABS has developed well over the past two years.

• The Government of the Republic of Cyprus has formed a special anti-poaching unit that has been active against trappers and restaurants.

• During the CABS bird protection camps in spring (and latterly also in autumn) several thousand illegal limesticks and dozens of nets and electronic decoy equipment have been located and destroyed by CABS teams. The number of poachers arrested by the authorities increases from year to year.