Our Bird Protection Camps on Cyprus
CABS actions throughout the year
Back in 2001, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), together with our Italian partner association LAC, carried out our first small migratory bird protection operation in Cyprus. Every spring since 2008 there have been large committee bird conservation camps on the island, and since 2011 also in autumn. In order to combat bird-trapping during the winter months, we conducted our first winter operation in 2013. We now cover the entire trapping season with our three bird protection camps:
- Spring camp: March to May
- Autumn camp: September to November
- Winter camp: December to February
In spring and autumn our work is focused on combating the illegal trapping of long-distance migrants such as warblers and flycatchers with nets and limesticks; in winter, our focus is preventing the trapping of wintering thrushes with nets. Overall our primary focus is within the southeast (poaching hotspot) of the Greek-speaking part of the Mediterranean island, but we do also now conduct some field investigations in the Turkish north.
Each year, up to 50 bird conservationists from all over Europe take part in CABS actions in Cyprus. Our volunteer teams search for illegal limesticks, nets and electronic decoys, and also identify outlets such as restaurants, grocery stores and butchers, selling the birds. in cooperation with the police and hunting inspectors, our aim is to bring the bird trappers to justice. We conduct detailed field investigations to identify and map out active trapping sites and then lead in the authorities. The perpetrators are mainly convicted where the are trapping sites are in fenced properties.
If a police operation is not possible, we dismantle the illegal traps and nets in consultation with the authorities. Caught birds are released - injured animals can usually be released back into the wild after a short period of care.
Unfortunately, tackling bird poaching is not a priority for the authorities in Cyprus. There is no political will, because the bird-trappers have a strong lobby, especially in the Famagusta district. In order to keep their votes, the use of limesticks as an "old tradition" is glorified, and actions from CABS are often perceived as unpleasant foreign invasion. The once successful police Anti-Poaching Squad has been largely dissolved, and the understaffed Game Fund Service was predominantly entrusted with other tasks. Thus we are increasingly alone with our bird protection camps, from year to year fewer poachers come to court. Only the cooperation with the SBA police in the British military base areas has developed positively in recent years.
Due to the lack of police support, our bird protection camps have become more dangerous again. After serious incidents with several team members assaulted between 2009 - 2011 our teams were accompanied with police support. Meanwhile, our members are again increasingly exposed to the aggression of violent poachers, the number of assaults is currently increasing again.
Despite the sometimes adverse circumstances, our actions in Cyprus are successful. Every year thousands of limesticks and hundreds of nets are seized. At least in the spring the level of bird poaching has now significantly decreased (see our Results and Statistics).
Our actions in Cyprus are only made possible by supporter donations and with the generous support of our cooperation partner Stiftung Pro Artenvielfalt.