In autumn 2016, the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) Police worked with specialist RSPB Investigations staff, with the support of BirdLife Cyprus, and installed covert cameras at several key illegal trapping hotspots on the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA) in Cyprus. This was the first time this method of surveillance was used in Cyprus with the aim to catch illegal bird trappers in the act.
The shocking footage shows individuals removing the struggling birds from the mist nets then killing them with knives before tossing the bodies into buckets. A total of 19 individuals were secretly filmed illegally catching birds in mist nets and have been successfully convicted with a range of fines, while 7 of them also received suspended jail sentences. The last case for 2016 was finalised and the two main offenders received substantial fines of 6600 and 3200 Euros, and one also received a 20 month jail sentence suspended for 3 years. These are the most severe sentences for the 2016 operation. The same surveillance method was used in autumn 2017 and more cases are currently under investigation.
A report published by BirdLife Cyprus revealed that an estimated 800,000+ birds were illegally killed on the ESBA in autumn 2016. The overall estimate, including the Republic of Cyprus, climbs to 1.7 million birds illegally killed in autumn 2016. The report for the autumn 2017 trapping season is due out in the next couple of months.
Illegal bird trapping is a persistent problem and these court sentences recognise that this is a serious wildlife crime. In addition to supporting covert surveillance in the SBAs, BirdLife Cyprus will continue pushing hard for action against law breaking restaurants in the Republic that sell illegally trapped birds and also with its systematic monitoring as well as education efforts in schools and beyond, with the aim of reducing the demand that drives the bird killing.
For the Press Release in PDF format please click here.