Posted by: Dan | January 3, 2010

What Cypriot Trappers Say

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

What do the Cypriot trappers say?

When it comes to Cypriot bird trapping, the Cypriots manage to come up with some pretty inept defenses of criminal activity. Absolutely none of the attempts to justify trapping that I’ve come across make any sense to anyone but the hunters and trappers. Justifications such as (paraphrasing the top five as best I can):

  1. “The birds taste good, so there’s no point in trying to save them.”
    [Variation: “The birds want to be eaten, you can tell by their behavior”; or “God made the birds to be eaten.” This justification is absolutely ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop them from saying it.]
  2. “Foreigners have problems in their own countries, let them deal with their problems and leave Cyprus alone.”
    [This isn’t actually a justification, it’s an undisguised plea to be allowed to continue crime.]
  3. “Cypriots need the poached birds for food or for income.”
    [This is a lie. Thanks to tourism the Cypriot standard of life has increased dramatically. And the poachers drive brand-new top-of-the-line pickup trucks in the fields, demonstrating that they are not paupers.]
  4. “Foreigners are biased for criticizing Cypriot practices and ignoring English fox hunting, [etc.].”
    [This is usually a lie, depending on the specific variation employed. And it is irrelevant – Cypriot authorities are responsible for crimes in Cyprus, not in other countries.]
  5. “Foreigners are biased for allowing poultry farming but condemning ambelopoulia trapping.”
    [Poultry are not wildlife, and hence the criticisms being made against ambelopoulia do not apply to poultry, and vice versa.]
  6. “There are human rights violations in the Turkish-occupied areas, and you should be more concerned about human life than birds.”
    [Misdirection: the violations of others’ does not absolve people here from the duty to following their laws. ]

The claim that outsiders are biased for one reason or another is particularly common. And the trappers seem particularly proud of such arguments. What these justifications intentionally ignore however is the fact that trapping and ambelopoulia are illegal. And by trying to make excuses for illegal activities, even the best of excuses, they are by definition defending criminals.



  1. These poachers are so lame in justifying what they should know is wrong. I can’t see why they are so blind to the fact that they are doing the wrong thing. Is the problem as bad in the rest of Europe, or does it seem to be restricted to Cyprus?

  2. No, the problem is not just in Cyprus. I live in Cyprus now, so I focus primarily on things here, but similar problems exist in Malta, Italy, France, and Spain. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) is the group most aggressively campaigning in these five countries.

  3. I agree, this is a problem that is global. In Seattle we have aggressively campaigned with the help of the NABCI, but to little resolve. I imagine Cyprus is less bureaucratic in getting some of these problems eradicated. Is this true?

  4. I’d say it’s more of an issue of public opinion than bureaucracy: the majority of Cypriots have a very bleak understanding of the value of conserving anything natural.

  5. The majority of Cypriots do not have a “very bleak understanding of the value of conserving anything natural” and please be careful when you say something like that,i am Half Cypriot and half Greek and i live in Cyprus and i doesn’t mean because some do not care that most “Cypriots” just don’t care. It is really insulting to say something like that. They are some few witch still live with and have grown up with some old traditions so its kind of difficult to change those people,but we teach kids from school about nature and how to look after it and with ads on tv to prevent such things and to explain that this is wrong and most of this birds are rare and some are going to extinct. And many many other things to get peoples attention and change some of this “bad” habits.So please check on the net or come to cyprus and you will see we have a lot of organizations that care and looking after wild life as well. Some are government organizations as well.

  6. Andreas,
    Yes there are a lot of non-Cypriot government and non-government organizations that care and are doing what they can. For Cypriot NGOs, the Cyprus Greens focus on climate change and GMOs (all well and good), but have little interest in ecology and biodiversity; while BirdLife Cyprus is mostly British, and has great difficulty finding Cypriots who care about these things. And for Cyprus governmental organizations, the Environmental Service doesn’t do a very good job; and the Game Fund only very reluctantly protects species.

    These are the realities that BirdLife Cyprus faces… membership and backlash problems. Both indicate that Cypriots don’t just don’t care much. Sorry if it’s insulting to you to hear, but it’s the truth.


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