Zypern – 17. 02. 2022
Poacher convicted for threatening CABS volunteers – The organisation urges for more protection and better enforcement against wildlife crimes.
On Monday 14 February, the Farmagusta District Court sentenced a man who had threatened two young female CABS volunteers back in September 2019. At the time of the incident, the environmentalists were walking on the road close to his former trapping site where they found several dead sparrows and chickens. The man confronted them and threatened to run them over with his vehicle. In court he admitted the charges and was sentenced to pay a meagre fine of 350 euros.
The incident was one in a long series of attacks towards the international environmentalists, who are documenting the illegal trapping of protected wildlife on the island of Cyprus. “In the last months alone, we have received a number of serious attacks” CABS investigations Officer Bostjan Debersek said. “Last November one of our members was violently assaulted and left unconscious bleeding on the ground; in December a notorious trapper punched me after ‘man-handling’ a policeman and this January an unknown person put an explosive device on our car, that was parked in a busy residential area. Not to mention the countless times we’ve been surrounded, threatened and verbally abused by poachers and illegal hunters.”
All incidents were reported to the police and investigations are ongoing to identify the culprits.
“The sentence of this week sends a clear message that violence against international citizens should not be tolerated but much more work needs to be done.” continues Debersek. “We urge now the Ministries and Police Headquarters responsible for law enforcement to take a strong position against wildlife crimes and against aggressive behaviour towards environmentalists”.
CABS call again for the urgent need to reinstate the Anti-poaching Unit of police and an effective sanction system with stronger penalties, better protection for civilian volunteers and a zero-tolerance approach to notorious professional trappers. “In a situation where criminals profit from illegal trapping and defend their profits with violence, while CABS volunteers face increasing risks to protect wildlife, the government has the audacity to not only sit on the fence but to actively downsize and massacre the existing enforcement apparatus to the additional advantage of the lawbreakers.”