Posted by: Dan | May 9, 2009

“Bird Activists Remove Over 2000 Limesticks in Cyprus”

I hadn’t heard anything about this until just now, and I spent the entire morning with about 20 of the most active members of BirdLife Cyprus (birdwatching, of course). But apparently, via the English-speaking Cypriot news site CyprusMail, Bird Activists Remove Over 2000 Limesticks in Cyprus:

BIRD ACTIVISTS from Germany, Italy and the UK removed and destroyed 2,136 illegal lime sticks and more than 30 mist nets used for bird trapping on Cyprus over the past two weeks, they said yesterday.

In a statement, the German-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), said numerous endangered species such as Golden Oriole, Hoopoe, Wryneck, Collared Flycatcher and even two owls were freed from traps. In the Ayia Napa area alone official complaints were filed with the police against a total of 10 persons who had been involved in setting and operating nets and traps for protecte3d song birds,” CABS said.

The CABS team, consisting of eight experienced ornithologists were equipped with video cameras and spotting scopes in order to monitor and record illegal, and widespread trapping of migrant birds. The material gained is being evaluated and will be included in a comprehensive report to the European Commission and the Cyprus government.

“With its accession to the EU, Cyprus has committed itself to protect migrant birds. The trapping of millions of birds of protected species for the cooking pot is unparalleled in Europe and must be combated with political will and the full force of the law,” said CABS president Heinz Schwarze.

He said the conservationists were particularly shocked that many of the trapped song birds were being offered to tourists as a regional delicacy. “We have recorded these facts in detail, and they will form the basis of an international campaign against this unacceptable state of affairs,” Schwarze added.

CABS also announced their intention to send further teams to Cyprus in October to monitor the situation during autumn migration and, in cooperation with the police, bring “criminal poachers” to justice. The group will also send undercover ‘food tasters’ to restaurants.

“Premises illegally offering song birds for consumption, either openly or under the counter, will be reported by us to the police and can expect them to appear with a search warrant” Schwarze warned.

Commenting on the group yesterday Birdlife Cyprus executive manager Martin Hellicar said CABS were an independent group of activists. He said BirdLife supported what they did but not always the methods.

“Everything needs to be done within the law in cooperation with the enforcers who have the difficult job of taking on very dangerous criminals,” said Hellicar. “This makes it harder for the enforcers who often get shot at, and it makes it harder for us who are here all year round.”

Hellicar said there were a number of groups who do what CABS does every year “and we see eye-to-eye ninety per cent of the time,” he said, adding that the activists knew the risks involved.

World Migratory Bird Day is being celebrated worldwide this weekend.

“It reminds us yet again of Cyprus’ obligations to protect these international travellers – some of whom come to our island to breed, while others pass through on their way to their European breeding grounds,” said a BirdLife statement to mark the day. “Birds know no political boundaries”.

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter‘s website, with their own (and more detailed) description of their actions available here, complete with a downloadable PDF report:

The 2009 CABS spring bird protection camp on Cyprus took place from 24 April to 3 May. The participants, from Italy, United Kingdom and Germany searched for illegal lime sticks, nets and electronic decoys, reported poachers to the police and monitored the ban on spring hunting. In addition checks of shops and restaurants for the illegal sale of song birds were carried out.

In close cooperation with the police and the Game Fund wardens, over 200 sites in the south of Cyprus were searched for illegal bird traps. A total of 2,136 lime sticks, 33 nets (with a total length of 570 m) and 14 electronic decoys were found and destroyed. Game wardens and police were led to 9 fenced in gardens where lime sticks and traps had been observed. Investigations continue apace.

202 birds were found in the nets and on lime sticks of which 155 could be released unharmed. They included Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Collared Flycatcher, Golden Oriole, Scops Owl and a Wryneck.

The 14 illegal electronic decoy devices (with recordings of Blackcap calls) and the associated car batteries, loudspeakers, timers and hundreds of metres of cable were removed from the trapping areas.

In contrast to previous operations the trappers were decidedly aggressive. On a number of occasions members of the CABS teams escaped from the poachers in the nick of time. In one case a team member from North Germany was hit and thrown to the ground and his backpack taken from him. Imn another case CABS members were surpriesd by a trapper as they were dismantling his net. The man tried to attack the conservationists who managed to flee in their vehicle. A chase followed which was brought to an end by the British Sovereign Base Area police who were called upon for assistance. The poacher was caught and an investigation started.

Illegal shooting of returning migrant birds was less extensive this year than in April 2008. Last year we recorded 38 shots – this year only 10. Six of these were fired by a presumed poacher at a flock of Bee eaters. One bird was killed and the poacher managed to escape from the CABS teams closing in on him. The dead Bee eater was recovered and a complaint against the poacher registered with the police.

Additionally, the CyprusMail news release appears to simply be a reprint of the CABS press release.

The PDF is quite informative actually, and factually accurate as best I can tell.


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