Organized trapping continues undeterred

Joint Press Release by BirdLife Cyprus, RSBP and CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter)

The latest report on bird trapping by BirdLife Cyprus’ and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) as well as the report by CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) for autumn 2023 both show an increase in trapping levels within their survey area compared to the encouraging decline that was recorded in recent years. In particular, BirdLife Cyprus estimates that approximately 435,000 birds (including migratory and threatened species) were illegally trapped and killed in nets and on limesticks last autumn alone.

The three organizations believe that this increase is mainly due to three factors:

Organized crime bird trapping: Although the use of nets in the Republic of Cyprus was around the same levels as last year, there was nevertheless increased activity by well-known, organized groups of trappers who essentially continue to trap birds on a large scale. On several occasions, members of conservation organizations have been attacked by said organized trappers in the field. This raises questions about the role of the Cyprus Police Anti-Poaching Unit, which after its re-instatement (June 2023) was expected to take on a more active role against bird trapping, and especially organized trapping. The three organizations call on the Cyprus Police Anti-Poaching Unit to draw up an action plan in collaboration with the Game and Fauna Service to focus on the large scale, organized trappers, and work together to tackle this issue. The three conservation organizations are ready to support the Cypriot authorities’ enforcement action against trapping, as they have been doing effectively, for years now with the British Bases Police.

Law relaxations: The relaxation in fines from €2000 to €200 for the killing of up to 50 birds using limesticks (law amended December 2020), making penalties neither punitive nor deterrent, has indirectly decriminalized this trapping method. As a result, limestick use remains high. The three organizations are calling on the House of Representatives to annul the law relaxation and increase the fines to €2000 for all birds, regardless of killing method or bird species.

British Base Police understaffing: In the fall of 2023, there was an increase in trapping levels with nets at some locations within the British Bases at Dhekelia. We believe this is related to the understaffing of the British Bases Police team responsible for cracking down on bird poaching and trapping within their jurisdiction. The three organizations are calling on the British Bases Police to keep this team sufficiently staffed to continue to be a deterrent and effective unit, thus maintaining the low levels of trapping recorded in recent years.

More information on the systematic monitoring program and the BirdLife Cyprus and RSPB autumn 2023 trapping levels report is available here. The CABS report on autumn 2023 trapping levels is available here.


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