- BirdLife Cyprus’s monitoring of illegal bird trapping activities continued into the 9th year with data gathered systematically in the field (31st August – 8th November 2010) by a trained team of surveyors. All evidence of trapping was passed to the relevant enforcement authorities.
- The picture emerging from autumn 2010 is one of a bird trapping disaster on a scale unseen since BirdLife’s monitoring work began almost 10 years ago. Trapping levels may still be lower than in the 1990s, but this cannot hide the fact that we are now faced with a conservation emergency in Cyprus.
- A 75% increase in mist net use and an 89% increase in limestick setting compared to autumn 2009 are simply unacceptable. Autumn trapping levels have been on a general upward trend for four years now.
- A nine-year high in mist netting activity represents a serious failure on the part of both Cyprus and the UK (mist netting levels were five times higher in the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area than in Republic areas). As EU Member States, both have obligations under the EU Birds Directive (2009/147/EC, ex 79/409/EEC) to protect birds, and migrant birds in particular.
- The estimated toll of around 1.4 million birds within the Famagusta and Larnaca districts represents an ecological disaster, especially when the non-selective nature of trapping is taken into account. Trappers are making hundreds of thousands of Euros by selling Blackcaps and other birds to be served up as illegal, expensive ambelopoulia delicacies.
- Cyprus has now lost serious ground in the battle against bird trapping, an illegal and indiscriminate practice that threatens many bird species of conservation concern, migrants especially.
- This situation must be addressed, with urgency and through the state authorities drawing up targeted action plans and allocating additional resources to reversing this situation.
- A priority area for enforcement action remains the restaurants providing the economic impetus for trapping by buying and serving ambelopoulia. The Cyprus Police operation of October 20th represents a good start in this battle.
- Priority must also be given to increasing enforcement resources on the ground and changing public attitudes to trapping and eating ambelopoulia. Clear condemnations of trapping from Ministers and other key decision-makers and opinion-formers could go a long way towards achieving a shift in public attitude. Such statements could also serve to impress upon judges the seriousness of trapping offenses, leading to the imposition of deterrent penalties for those convicted, including jail sentences.