Migratory bird slaughter on Zakynthos
The Ionian Islands of Greece are an important stopover for Turtle Doves migrating on the eastern flight route between the wintering grounds in Africa and the breeding grounds in continental Europe. Due to the high number of birds passing, a traditional spring hunt has developed in addition to the regular autumn hunt. In accordance with the provisions of the Birds Directive, Greece banned spring hunting in the mid-1980s, but on Zakynthos, Paxi, Athipaxi and other smaller islands this tradition nevertheless continues unabated.
Between mid-April and early May, hundreds of hunters await the arrival of the turtle doves, especially in the south and south-east of the islands. Here the birds land for the first time, exhausted from an often uninterrupted flight that began in North Africa. The hunters position themselves in hiding places, usually consisting of raised platforms in olive groves or small forests, camouflaged with freshly cut branches and twigs. The birds are often lured to the hiding places with illegal electronic callers - a practice that is unfortunately still widespread. The number of turtle doves shot here each spring is difficult to determine reliably, but based on the hunting activity we have observed, it is in the tens of thousands of birds annually.
Not only the turtle dove is the target of illegal hunting, but also species such as orioles, bee-eaters, swallows, kestrels and other birds of prey are shot in large numbers. While songbirds and turtle doves are usually eaten as delicacies, birds of prey are pure living targets.
With its operations on the island of Zakynthos, launched in 2023, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) is working against the illegal spring hunting of turtle doves, orioles and other migratory birds. The aim here is to put an end to illegal spring hunting through our active work in the field, but also through raising public awareness and political pressure.