Posted by: Dan | October 20, 2010

Rounding up the poachers

Yesterday the Cyprus Mail reported that the Game Fund authorities arrested one man for bird trapping. Only one. It sounds as though this one guy just had a bad day and was stumbled upon by the one Game Fund patrol for the year. I don’t know what else to make of it: BirdLife Cyprus staffers are saying from the field that this seems like the worst year of trapping in close to a decade, and we hear that the Game Fund is doing just about nothing.

At least we hear today that the Sovereign British Bases rounded up quite a few more poachers:

BRITISH BASES police have arrested 30 people and confiscated almost five kilometres of mist nets in the last two months as part of the battle against the illegal practice of trapping blackcaps (ambelopoulia).

Between August and October 19, the British bases police have made 30 arrests and confiscated 247 mist nets, 139 lime sticks, 351 cartridges, 68 batteries, 100 loud speakers, 65 cassettes, 70 tape recorders, seven imitating devices, 1,950 metres of wires and cables and 165 pole stands.

Now that’s what happens when you put in a little effort. I’m sure it wasn’t much effort even to do this much. But it’s not all good news:

According to Pitsillides, the bases law is in line with that of the Republic, with punishment including up to three years imprisonment and/or a €17,000 fine. Up to now, the British court has ordered fines of up to €1,000 and €2,000 and given out suspended sentences. No one has been imprisoned yet. The chief inspector noted that this would likely be reserved for repeat offenders. “In partnership with the Republic of Cyprus police, the Game Fund and BirdLife, we need the political backing of the politicians to stop the sale of blackcaps at restaurants and importing of mist nets,” said Pitsillides.

… even when law enforcement makes the effort, the penalties are either well below the trappers’ profit or the penalties are suspended. And if you forget why this trapping is a problem…

BirdLife Cyprus highlighted the negative impact this international publicity was having on tourism. While blackcaps are considered a traditional national delicacy on the island, catching them is illegal. BirdLife estimates that 1.5 million birds were caught and killed by poachers in 2009, noting that between one and three other birds such as rare shrikes, small owls and hawks are killed for every blackcap poachers catch.

Wow. Police bird-raid in Larnaca. I stand corrected – they’re doing something. It’s a meager beginning, but a beginning nonetheless. They’re still not doing anything about the restaurants however from what I can tell.

What is a shame is that some people think that they’re above the law – or at least that they have the right to continue illegal activities if they’re hidden. Of course they do not have that right, and they have no right to resist lawful entry of police when they are in possession of a search warrant.

And more news is coming out: Απορρίπτει τα περί υπέρμετρης βίας η αστυνομία.

The picture of what is emerging is that the police entered the Ayios Theodoros village at 7:00pm last night with 28 search warrants and 90 officers. While carrying out the searches, villagers gathered in the center of town and put up barricades to block the police from leaving, then attacking the police as they tried to leave, pushing women and children in the way of the officers to shield the men. And now they have the chutzpah to accuse the police of excessive use of force in response!


And still more: Police accused of terror tactics.

Police in turn accused the villagers of throwing rocks and stones, and using their wives and children as human shields during a brawl late on Wednesday between 90 agents from the Rapid Reaction Unit (MMAD) and half of the residents of Ayios Theodoros village.

According to police the six individuals aged between 15 and 53, who were arrested in Ayios Theodoros were charged at Kofinou police station with “causing riots, inciting attacks against members of the police, hindering police in the lawful execution of their duties, resisting the execution of legal warrants and for public swearing”.

The lies coming out from the villagers, and even MPs, is truly dishonorable.



  1. […] Dan, who lives on Cyprus, has an Update on the raids and more information over at his excellent ‘Migrations’ blog. Tags: Asides, […]


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