Bird trapping in the British military area (SBA)
East of Larnaca lies the British military area of Dhekelia. The 130 square kilometre area is part of the Sovereign Base Area (SBA), together with an area further west. It covers the Cape Pyla and reaches north to the buffer zone secured by UN blue helmets and to the Turkish north of the Mediterranean island. The uninhabited military area is not part of the Republic of Cyprus, but British territory.
Great Britain uses the strategic location close to the Middle East for military operations and is unlikely to relinquish the areas anytime soon. As the former colonial power, British diplomats are keen to maintain good neighbourly relations with the local population. With the exception of a few days of practice drills, the area is freely accessible - for farmers as well as for bird trappers.
Poacher gangs from the surrounding towns have recognised that they can take advantage of the reluctance of the British military and they occupy considerable parts of the landscape. Across dozens of hectares, acacia groves have been planted especially for bird-trapping - equipped with huge illegally constructed irrigation systems - trapping nets are set up in huge aisles. Electronic decoy callers are positioned around each net and cover almost every square metre at Cape Pyla. In the British military area alone, several hundred thousand birds are caught and killed illegally every year.