Posted by: Dan | July 1, 2011

Spring 2011 Bird Trapping in Cyprus

On the heals of CABS’ attention-grabbing Spring Camp in Cyprus video, BirdLife Cyprus has its sober and scientific assessment of Spring 2011 trapping. Besides the fact that the BirdLife Cyprus report is more thorough (owing to greater amount of time put into it), BirdLife’s also focuses more on the mist netting operations which are the greater threat to biodiversity.

First, if you’re not familiar with the situation, read either the 2010 trapping report or various posts included in my Stop Ambelopoulia FAQ.

What does the 2011 report conclude though:

Figure 1: Long term trend in spring bird trapping activity for period 2007 - 2011 for the 36 commonly surveyed squares.

Figure 1 [above] presents the trend in spring trapping activity for the 36 survey squares covered in spring 2011 and in the preceding 4 spring surveys (2007-2010). Figure 1 above suggests an increase in trapping activity over the last 3 years, though levels are lower than in 2007 or 2008 (using the total length of net rides recorded as the indicator). Spring 2011 findings for these 36 squares indicate an increase of 9% of the total length of active net rides and an increase of 133% of the number of mist nets found (set or furled) compared to Spring 2010. Comparing spring 2011 with spring 2009 the increase in total length of active net rides is even higher, 72%, while the increase in the number of mist 3 FoE Cyprus in collaboration with CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) undertook a trapping surveillance campaign between 13 – 25 April 2011 in Eastern and Western Larnaca areas.

17 nets found was around 75%. It should be noted that the 6 squares that could not be covered in spring 2011 (considered high risk or for firing practice reasons) are well known “hotspots” for trapping activity and it is almost certain that the increases presented in Figure 1 for Spring 2011 would be even higher had they been checked (based on information provided from FoE Cyprus and CABS during their campaign).

Golden Oriole (Credit: RSPB)

How many birds though? The BirdLife report estimates that 491,000 birds were killed in the Spring of 2011 in Cyprus, up from 261,000 birds in Spring 2010. Tassos Shialis reports that up to 50 birds were trapped per mist net per day, frequently with all dead (including the many birds caught which are not kept for the restaurants).

Corroborating this data? An estimate of how many ambelopoulia were served in restaurants lends weight to the estimate of birds killed mentioned above.

What about the authorities? Response time to discovered poaching operations by the authorities was not what it should’ve been, and the BirdLife team observed that the Game Fund in particular had had its resources stretched to the limit.

Kingfisher on a limestick (Credit: Hüseyin Yorgancı)

In summary, the report paints a dim picture of Cyprus. The first paragraph of the report’s discussion sums it up mildly:

The data collected of the trapping levels for the Spring 2011 season are very discouraging, indicating that unless enforcement actions are stepped up to seriously clamp down illegal trapping activity during the main autumn season, 2011 will more than likely be another record year in bird death tolls.

So the raping of Europe’s avian biodiversity every spring and autumn remains a serious concern for Cyprus.

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