Zypern – 27. 12. 2021
CABS operation ‘silent night’ unveils massive illegal night trapping and lack of enforcement.
Notorious bird trapper ‘man-handles’ police officer, and assaults CABS member.
CABS winter bird protection camp started just five days ago and already the volunteers have already suffered the first violent aggression in Zygi, Larnaka district. During the night of the 24th, a CABS team discovered an active and large-scale trapping site on the river mouth east of Zygi harbour. The site was immediately reported to the Game and Fauna Service, but since the wardens were not available for the second night in a row, the team had to call the Zygi police for help and were escorted to the spot.
The trapping site was equipped with 6 huge nets and a tape lure. Six song thrushes and a barn owl were caught in the net, with 23 more dead in a bucket, freshly killed by the trapper. Despite the suspect attempting to flee to on foot, he was stopped by the police patrol close to the harbour.
However, the trapper had already called for back-up and both CABS team and the police patrol were confronted by two individuals, one of whom did not refrain from challenging the police unit, even manhandling one agent by the uniform's collar and pulling him around, while unleashing a torrent of death threats to everybody. When our volunteer intervened to try to stop the individual and to shield the police officer, he was punched in the face. The CABS member was subsequently taken to the hospital for possible damage to the ear membrane.
Alexander Heyd, CABS General Director stated "When you watch footage of the confrontation, it’s clear that the enforcement situation is on its head, where a criminal individual is calling the shots and threatening police, with the agents at his mercy. We do not blame the agents who have done their best given the circumstances, but we do blame the Head of Cyprus Police who, dissolved and dismantled the former specialist Anti-Poaching Unit, thereby sending a message to the trappers that they can have free reign and some of them can also abuse police agents".
Heyd added "CABS volunteers have been repeatedly received death threats from this trapper and will now file a complaint against him for violence and abusive behaviour, but once again for the third year in a row we urge the Cypriot authorities to stop once and for all this criminal individual who kills around 35,000 birds every year with impunity in his property in Maroni”.
CABS have confirmed they will report this unsustainable violence suffered by their volunteers to the relevant Embassies and the European Commission, but there are some questions raised to the Cypriot authorities which deserve an answer:
1) Why is it that both CyPol and the Game and Fauna Service are not able to implement the law against one of the biggest trappers in Cyprus?
2) Why the only police agent who managed to achieve a significant prosecution against this trapper, and confirming the true scale of his wildlife crimes, was transferred from the then functioning Anti-Poaching Unit and sent to a minor police station back in 2017?
3) Are the Cyprus Police willing to tolerate agents being abused by a well-known criminal individual?
4) Do Cyprus Police think that it is acceptable for a group of civilian volunteers from Europe to pro-actively find and report trapping sites risking aggressive confrontation from criminal gangs, whereas there is no law enforcement agency in Cyprus able to do any of that?
5) Why do the responsible Ministries and the Headquarters ignore the large and criminal phenomenon of bird trapping, with all the violence involved and the lack of security for Cypriot and European citizens instead of restoring the only solution which has ever worked, namely a full functioning special Anti-Poaching Unit?
As long as these questions are not properly answered and serious solutions taken, we cannot escape the feeling that Cyprus is in the hands of brutal criminality than of true Justice.
— ENDS —