Printer-friendly version

Operations on the island of Ponza - March 2010

CABS teams and forest police catch 2 poachers

Poacher's net on Ponza, close to Cala FeolaPoacher's net on Ponza, close to Cala FeolaBird trapping is an old tradition on the small Mediterranean island of Ponza. The residents set out steel traps, with mealworms as bait, on the steep terraced gardens of the island cliffs, almost inaccessible for strangers. The main catch includes late migrant insectivores such as Wheatear, Pied and Collared Flycatchers, Nightingales Whinchats and Redstarts. The European populations of almost all the species hunted with the treacherous traps are endangered. CABS has conducted short one day operations on the island for a number of years, checking all the gardens and dismantling the traps. The success of this type of operation was limited as the trappers replaced the traps as soon as the activists left the island.

Since 2008 therefore, the Committee has carried out covert operations in support of the state forest police. Italian CABS members visit the island in the guise of tourists every March. During the day they are out sightseeing - at night they search the gardens. Traps and nets are left in situ and their location is reported to the forest police.

Police agents with traps and nets seized on PonzaPolice agents with traps and nets seized on PonzaThis year the activists located two good ambush sites for the police and the officers took up their positions on the final day of operations. One poacher was caught with 27 traps at dawn; the other however was more suspicious and careful. He appeared very late and did not check the traps where the police were concealed. Instead he set out his traps in another part of the garden; but a CABS team member was able to film him. This was sufficient evidence for his later arrest and 30 traps were seized.

Since this change in tactics was introduced on Ponza six poachers have been caught red-handed. The fear of being arrested is considerable. As a result, bird trapping on Ponza has declined markedly in the past two years.