Autumn migration is upon us and it’s exciting! Well, it is indeed exciting if you’re into birds and you’re in Cyprus, but not as much if you’re a small songbird passing through the south-eastern corner of the island to head towards your wintering grounds.
Because autumn, however great it may be for birding, it is also the time when bird trapping is at its peak with trappers setting up their mist nets and limesticks to catch migrating songbirds. Just as we have done for the past 16 years, we will once again be out in the field monitoring the levels of trapping activity in the main trapping areas of Larnaca and Famagusta districts. Thanks to this data, we are able to better coordinate with the competent authorities but also put pressure towards the government for more effective and targeted enforcement.
In recent years, our survey also includes the use of covert surveillance to catch illegal bird trappers on the act. As a result of this, over 20 trappers were prosecuted, some of them receiving very high fines. Last autumn we recorded a significant decrease of about 80% in trapping activity with mist nets within the survey areas, in comparison to 2002 levels. This was a very positive development, following a decade of high trapping activity which had led Cyprus to be one (and still is) of the worst hotspots for the illegal killing of birds in the Mediterranean. Keeping up with the positive results of 2017 is vital to ensure that there is no slide back to higher trapping levels.
Effective enforcement action on the ground plays a key role in putting an end to this illegal practice. When out in the field, any active trapping sites that we come across are immediately reported to the enforcement agencies. This is also something that anyone of us could do, when out in the field. If you become aware of poaching or illegal trapping activity, you can report it directly to the competent authorities – you can find their contact details here. Alternatively, you can report it to BirdLife Cyprus, who will report it to the competent authorities safeguarding your anonymity. To do so, you can visit our website here or you can download our free mobile application, available for both Android and iOS mobile devices.