Zypern – 30. 10. 2020
Illegal killing of migratory birds is on the rise in Cyprus.
CABS members exposed to regular threats by hunters during field investigations.
Larnaca, Cyprus. CABS field investigations this autumn in south-eastern Cyprus have revealed an increase in the number of incidents of illegal bird killing in comparison with previous year. CABS teams have confirmed illegal trapping and shooting of protected migratory bird species at over 200 locations across SE Cyprus.
Most notable is the dramatic increase of illegal shooting. Field investigations have revealed several major poaching hotspots. At a hunting site near Lake Soros, CABS and BirdLife Cyprus members came across a shocking discovery: they found remains of over 200 shot bee-eaters and remains of some rare protected species such as rollers and hoopoes. Furthermore, investigations of a hunting site near Akrotiri revealed remains of several hundred shot specimens of protected bird species, including wagtails, pipits and sparrows.
“The use of illegal electronic callers used to lure birds within range of the waiting shotguns is a common occurrence”, says Bostjan Debersek, CABS Investigations Officer. “This weekend CABS members heard electronic callers, used to attract Skylarks and Blackcaps, at almost every hunting site we checked. We subsequently reported dozens of incidents of illegal hunting to the enforcement officers on duty, but in the vast majority of cases they were not available to intervene.”
Debersek added “With only one patrol of Game and Fauna Service officers covering the whole Famagusta District and one patrol covering the whole Larnaca District, they simply couldn’t cope with massive scale of illegal hunting activity in south-eastern Cyprus.”
As most of the illegal hunting is not investigated and punished accordingly, the illegal hunters operate with impunity in the hunting areas. Just over the last weekend, CABS activists were attacked and have been threatened by hunters on several occasions. CABS teams have been attacked while investigating illegal hunting activity on their own and even in the presence of Game and Fauna Service officers. One CABS volunteer even had a loaded gun aimed at them; whereas other members have received death threats from hunters in front of Game and Fauna Service officers. Furthermore, on several occasions our car was blocked in by hunters’ vehicles. After they blocked our cars, hunters took photos of us without permission and demanded that we leave the area, where illegal hunting was taking place.
The CABS official concluded, “Despite the intimidation and threats, we will continue to investigate and report illegal hunting activity. On Sunday (25/10) we reported several hunters using electronic callers and shooting at protected birds to the SBA Police in Akrotiri. Police officers conducted a spot check on one of the hunters and discovered a bag containing several shot protected bird species in his possession. The man was therefore issued a 2000€ fixed penalty for the offense.”
Since the beginning of September, CABS field investigations and joint operations with enforcement agencies have resulted in 29 prosecutions for illegal bird killings in south-eastern Cyprus, 20 for bird trapping and 9 for illegal hunting.