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Operations against bird trapping and wildlife trade in Naples

Finch trapping on Mount Vesuvius

Goldfinches and Siskins just seized: they were ready to be sold on the black market of NaplesiGoldfinches and Siskins just seized: they were ready to be sold on the black market of NaplesiGoldfinches, Greenfinches and Siskins are traditionally considered to bring their owners luck in the sprawling conurbation of Naples (Campania/South Italy). Everywhere in the narrow streets and alleyways of the old town, stopped up with vehicle traffic, the song of these birds can be heard from countless balconies where they are confined in small cages. For many long term residents of Naples a finch in a cage is a typical household item.

The birds are still caught in large numbers in clap and mist nets, as well as special cage traps, above all on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. The birds are sold in normal pet shops, which also sell the necessary trapping accoutrements. The birds and equipment are often not just available ‘under the counter’ but are openly on sale.

Under Italian law finch trapping is a crime, as is the sale and possession of traps and nets. But, in a city where the Camorra and its criminal activity are omnipresent, environmental crime is rather a mere peccadillo. Raids on pet shops and taxidermists Our partners from LIPU Napoli have specialised in combating this typically Neapolitan form of poaching and cooperate closely with the forest police in joint operations against bird trapping and illegal wildlife trade. Newly-caught song birds are regularly confiscated after observation of selected pet shops, as are the nets and large numbers of the small cage traps. Hundreds of finches and large amounts of trapping equipment are secured in this way every year.

LIPU game wardens organize the liberation of seized small birdsLIPU game wardens organize the liberation of seized small birdsPolice and conservationists also find other protected species in such raids. In autumn 2006 alone, dozens of iguanas and protected turtles from the tropics were found and confiscated. In addition finds are made continually of deep frozen or stuffed birds on the premises of taxidermists.

In order to sensibilise the residents of Naples for wildlife protection and conservation, the forest police organise a large release action of confiscated birds once a year on the city perimeter. School classes are invited and attend to these ‘release ceremonies’ and they provide the local media with a story on poaching and its consequences.

Great interest was generated by „Operazione Faraone" (Operation Pharaoh) in April 2007. This well-planned operation involved the arrests of three taxidermists in the Neapolitan suburbs of Giugliano, Ponticelli und Miano and the confiscation of 65 stuffed birds of protected species including Osprey, Common Crane, Lapwing and Hoopoe. In addition 11 deep frozen birds and animals (including 6 Kingfishers and several tortoises) and 8 living birds in cages were found and confiscated (several finch species and 4 Skylarks). Two nets and 1 cage trap were also secured.

The results of some of the operation of our partners LIPU Napoli and the police from the recent past are listed below:

  • 22.11.2008: LIPU teams on the island of Ischia, together with the police, discovered and seized 6 shotguns, 8 electronic decoys and some 1,167 shotgun cartridges concealed in a concrete bunker in Barrano. The fire brigade had to force an entry - the 67 year old offender was arrested for illegal possession of weapons.
  • 01.10.2008: Game wardens on Ischia seize 12 electronic decoy devices with 16 loudspeakers and 370 m of cable, as well as 23 rounds of ammunition.
  • 30.07.2008: In the Neapolitan suburb of Colli Aminei 22 Goldfinches and 15 illegal cahe traps were seized from an animal trader. The birds were later released. WWF game wardens seize illegal shotguns hidden in a hunter's bunkerWWF game wardens seize illegal shotguns hidden in a hunter's bunker
  • 17.04.2008: A blow to the illegal bird trade in Naples. Game wardens and police seize 147 freshly-caught wild birds in the Vesuvius national Park (62 Linnets, 60 Goldfinches, 11 Serins, 7 Chaffinches, 4 Greenfinches and 3 Siskins) on a 60 year old animal trader’s premises. The birds were released immediately.
  • 15.04.2008: Start of the bird protection camp on the island of Procida which will run until the mid-May. LIPU game wardens will monitor the ban on spring hunting.
  • 20.03.2008: LIPU game wardens, together with the police and Carabinieri on the islands of Ischia and Procida, arrest 4 hunters for contravening the spring hunting ban and seize 11 shotguns and hundreds of cartridges.
  • 30.12.2007: LIPU game wardens and the forest police find 20 rounds of ammunition in a concealed poacher‘s hide on the island of Vivara.
  • 05.12.2007: After locating a trapping site with nets 150 m in length near Massalubrense, the LIPU Napoli, together with the forest police, searched a private house and confiscated 16 illegally kept birds from the owner, a 67 year old poacher. The birds included 5 Blackbirds, 4 Siskins, 1 Hawfinch, 1 Quail and 1 Song Thrush. Police agents and game wardens with seized GoldfinchesPolice agents and game wardens with seized Goldfinches
  • 26.11.2007: LIPU game wardens and forest police find two shotguns and 4 cartridges, concealed by poachers, on the island of Vivara (near Procida). One poacher is charged.
  • 23.11.2007: Provincial police and game wardens confiscate 3 Siskins, 2 Goldfinches and 14 bird cages from an animal trader in Calvizzano.
  • 12.11.2007: Provincial police and LIPU wildlife wardens arrest a 57 year old bird trapper on the Sorrento peninsula near Naples. They seized 80 square metres of nets and confiscated 18 freshly caught Song Thrushes, 3 Blackbirds and 2 Siskins.
  • 10.11.2007: Near Stabio in the south of Naples 1 nets and 10 bow traps were found and seized. Five living birds (1 Dunnock, 1 Linnet, 1 pipit and 3 warblers) were confiscated.
  • 12.10.2007: Together with the forest police wildlife wardens confiscate 157 Goldfinches from a notorious poacher. The birds were released after a veterinary examination.
  • 14.09.2007: Four night time electronic bird lures located and removed on the island of Ischia.
  • 10.08.2007: LIPU wardens and forest police confiscate 4 Goldfinches, 4 Serins, 3 Greenfinches, 1 Chaffinch, 1 Kestrel and a south American Cayman – all in the illegal possession of a wildlife collector.
  • 25.05.2007: LIPU wardens and forest police confiscate 18 Serins, 14 Greenfinches, 2 Goldfinches and 2 Magpie chicks in a pet shop in Capoluogo. WWF wardens open an illegal hunter's bunker on IschiaWWF wardens open an illegal hunter's bunker on Ischia
  • 17.04.2007: Carabinieri and forest police, together with LIPU wardens, confiscate 19 Goldfinches from a pet shop owner in Fuorigrotta.
  • 16.04.2007: Poachers shoot a Little Egret on the River Sarno. The poacher escapes but the bird is rescued and brought to the LIPU recovery station.
  • 05.04.2007: During "Operazione Faraone" 3 taxidermists are arrested and 65 stuffed birds, 11 deep frozen birds and animals and 8 living birds are found and confiscated.
  • 31.01.2007: LIPU wardens and provincial police arrest 2 poachers in the "Parco Metropolitano" near Camaldoli, who were shooting at the first returning migrant birds. Their shotguns and 60 cartridges are confiscated
  • 26.01.2007: In Marigliano, north of Mount Vesuvius, LIPU wardens confiscate 2 foxes, 2 Red Deer and 2 Moufflon sheep. A local farmer had kept them illegally as a ‚tourist attraction’.

LIPU operations are financially supported by CABS from donations collected mainly in Germany. If you want to add your support we would be very grateful for any donation towards our international nature and wildlife protection work.