Posted by: Dan | October 20, 2009

How Does BirdLife Monitor Illegal Bird Trapping?

This is part of the series of posts Poaching in Cyprus FAQ

How Does BirdLife Monitor Illegal Bird Trapping?

BirdLife Cyprus uses a standard surveillance scheme that has been in use since they began studying bird trapping in Cyprus in 2002. Two observers are employed to carry out field investigations aimed at monitoring illegal bird trapping activity in the two traditional bird trapping hotbeds on the Island: the Famagusta area and the Ayios Theodoros – Maroni valleys West of Larnaca. These two areas (roughly represented by areas 1 and 2 in the map below) comprise the “core” study area, and the study takes place during two months in Spring and again in Autumn. Originally this “core” area comprised approximately 360-km2, but has grown to 406-km2 since 2002.

The main bird trapping areas in Cyprus

The main bird trapping areas in Cyprus

Within this “core” area, surveillance focuses on 1-kilometer-square likely trapping hot-spots, which were previously classified on the basis of habitat characteristics alone as ‘possible bird trapping areas.’ Sampling for trapping activity is carried out in a total of 76 of these 211 ‘possible bird trapping area’ squares,’ 43 of which have been repeated every year since monitoring began, and 33 of which are randomly chosen anew each year.

Since Autumn 2006, BirdLife Cyprus has expanded to also estimate trapping levels in known trapping areas beyond the “core” study area – areas 3 to 10 on the map above.

While the main observer effort is to locate evidence of mist netting, all evidence of limestick activity is also recorded. Limesticks are much harder to locate in the field than mist nets and are often set in different habitat to mist nets. In addition, incidental evidence for limestick use is hard to detect (though trees pruned to hold limesticks are readily identifiable). It is impractical to search entire 1-km sample squares for limesticks due to the time consuming nature of the task. The protocol is therefore for the observers to look out for limesticks while surveying for mist netting activity. Limesticks found in the field are recorded as fresh (sticky) or old (not very sticky).

More to come on the data gathered by such monitoring, its reliability, and the overall trend from the data from 2002 to the present, in future blog posts…




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