Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V. Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e. V.
Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS)

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Griechenland – 29. 06. 2023

Massacre of endangered Turtle Doves in Greece. CABS teams document illegal spring hunting of migratory birds on Zakynthos.

Each spring, thousands of protected Turtle Doves and other rare migratory birds are being killed by irresponsible hunters on the island of Zakynthos, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said today. Although spring hunting has been banned in Greece since the 1980s CABS documented widespread mass-shooting of Turtle Doves and other protected species on the island which lies centrally along one of the most important flyways for migratory birds between Africa and Europe.

After receiving numerous reports regarding illegal bird poaching on Zakynthos we decided to send a team to monitor and document the situation in April and early May, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Bostjan Debersek reports. “The countryside was filled with hundreds newly refurbished hunting hides, the ground covered with spent shotgun cartridges and the remains of freshly shot birds such as Turtle Doves, Golden Orioles, Swallows, Kestrels, Bee-eaters and a Buzzard ”, Debersek continued adding that the eNGO monitored less than 25% of the area suitable for hunting on the island and found more than 100 hunting hides, all in use in April and recorded thousands of shots throughout the period of peak migration. CABS also observed the widespread use of illegal electro-acoustic callers which poachers use to lure birds in front of their hides. Debersek: “In one single area near the village of Amoudi we heard four different electronic decoys all used by hunters to attract Golden Orioles”.

CABS stressed concerns that its experts were under the impression that illegal bird hunting is largely tolerated by the local authorities with no system or tactic in place to stop the perpetrators. However, continuous calls and reports made to the forest police and regular police finally led to the prosecution of three illegal hunters. Moreover, CABS provided police with video evidence which ‘should’ lead to the identification and conviction of at least 18 additional poachers, the organisation said.

CABS urge the Greek authorities to do more against this form of wildlife crime and to introduce proactive enforcement measures to bring poachers to justice. It also encourages tourists and local conservationists to document and report illegalities to the police.

According to CABS, the situation on Zakynthos is especially concerning for the European Turtle Doves, one of the fastest declining bird species throughout Europe. Even more so as illegal spring hunting is widespread on other Greek islands. The Hellenic Ornithological Society (BirdLife Greece) that was partner of the EU-LIFE Against Bird Crime project and the Forest Research Institute published a study that estimates that 57000 Turtle Doves were killed during the spring of 2021 in the Ionian islands. “These birds are already facing multiple other threats, such as habitat loss and extreme draught in its breeding and wintering territories. Being shot in large numbers before having the chance to reproduce might be the final blow” says Bostjan Debersek.

A video summary from this springs anti-poaching operation has been posted on our YouTube channel >> here <<

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Contact for photographic and video material and other information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, Email to CABS@komitee.de