Brief overview of CABS spring operations 2020
As "travelling bird conservationists" our regular operations have been particularly affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. No bird protection camp in spring has taken place as we had originally planned. But we can't complain, in fact we are happy about the successes we have still managed to deliver despite the adverse circumstances:
March: Malta operation against Finch trapping
We were very lucky with our Malta operations this year, a team arrived on the island a few days before the border was closed and was able to conduct field investigations unhindered until May. From 9 to 31 March, we were able to document a total of 18 cases of illegal bird-trapping with clap-nets and report them to the authorities, plus two cases of poaching with firearms. Due to the corona crisis, the police were often unable attend, so we do not yet know how many of the bird trappers were subsequently convicted. However, the evidence we have produced will lead to a significant number of criminal proceedings.
April/May: Bonelli's eagle protection on Sicily
The only operation that has taken place almost completely as normal is our Bonelli's eagle nest watch campaign on the Italian island of Sicily. With permits from the authorities, the participants were able to monitor half a dozen nests of the endangered Bonelli's Eagle in conjunction with the nature conservation group "Gruppo Tutela Rapaci". The birds are sought after by animal traders and collectors because they are so notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. Many chicks used to fall into the hands of nest robbers because of this - in spring 2020 not a single nest was touched!
May: Bird trapping in southern Italy
Despite the curfew in Italy, we managed to coordinate a small operation on the southern Italian island of Ischia without having to be present ourselves. With solid intel we reported to the authorities, the police were able to convict two poachers on the popular holiday island just outside Naples in May: One man had set up snap-traps for whinchats, the other carried shotgun ammunition outside the hunting season. After the police actions, illegal spring hunting on Ischia completely ground to a halt this spring.
May: Actions in Calabria
Even though our actions in Calabria (Southern Italy) were much shorter than planned, we had a good result with four poachers convicted: One man was caught illegally hunting, two offenders had set up nets for goldfinches and one was caught in possession of an illegally kept peregrine falcon.
May: Bird trapping in Lebanon
Unfortunately, our planned spring operation in Lebanon could not take place. However, our partners at Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL) and the Middle Eastern Sustainable Hunting Centres Anti-Poaching Unit (MESHC) were able to carry out more than a dozen inspections in April and May and, together with the police, shut down a whole series of bird trapping sites around Barja and Jbel (where we also conducted operations last autumn). Several hundred metres of illegal trapping nets for songbirds such as reed warblers, flycatchers and warblers were dismantled and dozens of birds were freed unharmed.