A review of illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean by BirdLife International has recently been published in the March 2016 edition of the journal ‘Bird Conservation International’. The full title of the scientific article is ‘Preliminary assessment of the scope and scale of illegal killing and taking of birds in the Mediterranean’ and is available online. A press release was also published by BirdLife International regarding the publication of this important assessment, highlighting the key findings of the study.
The authors estimated that between 11 – 36 million individual birds may be killed/taken illegally per year in the region, many of them while on their migration journey, i.e. a shocking number. The paper puts on the spotlight the persistent problem of illegal trapping in Cyprus, highlighting that ‘...In the late 1980s, Cyprus had a reputation for killing more individual birds per capita than any other country in the Mediterranean (Magnin 1987) and our data indicates that this may remain the case’. Cyprus ranked first with the highest estimated mean number of birds killed per capita, 196 birds killed per 100 people, followed by Lebanon with 44 birds killed per 100 people.
Moreover, the intensity of the killing on the island is also shocking: Cyprus ranked second with a mean of 248 birds per km2, after Malta with 343 birds per km2. Hence, it came as no surprise that the Famagusta area was ranked first (689,000 birds killed) in the list of the 20 worst locations for illegal killing of birds, closely followed by the Menbej-Tishreen dam in Syria (679,000 birds).
The publication of this scientific article and its findings clearly showed that Cyprus is one of the worst countries regarding the illegal trapping and killing of birds in the Mediterranean. This is solid proof of the extensive and the industrial scale of this illegal activity that is taking place on our island. The implementation of the Strategic Action Plan against illegal bird trapping, on the basis of a zero tolerance approach and without any derogations, such as the so called ‘alternative plan’, must start immediately in 2016 in order to avoid any further worsening of the current situation and the referral of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU Court of Justice for non-compliance with the Birds Directive.