Pa­trols launched to clip wings of bird poach­ers

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Holiday -

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Vol­un­teers look­ing for poach­ers that tar­get mi­grat­ing birds are on pa­trol in sev­eral Mediter­ranean coun­tries, in­clud­ing Malta, Le­banon and Cyprus.

The Ber­lin-based Com­mit­tee against Bird Slaugh­ter, known as CABS, has launched its au­tumn anti-poach­ing op­er­a­tions, which take them through mostly ru­ral ar­eas, look­ing for nets, de­coys and other hunt­ing de­vices.

The en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists say their work is tough and their mem­bers have been as­saulted on dozens of oc­ca­sions by an­gry poach­ers.

In Cyprus, CABS team­leader An­drea Rutigliano ex­pressed se­ri­ous con­cern at the ex­tent of il­le­gal killing of mi­gra­tory birds and com­plained about a lack of help from the au­thor­i­ties, which he says are no longer as help­ful as they once were.

“Now we don’t have a per­form­ing po­lice unit, which was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing de­tect bird trap­ping. ... We need sup­port — we will take the risk — but it is not fair that we are left alone in the field after such great co­op­er­a­tion,” Rutigliano said.

A re­cent study by the Royal So­ci­ety for the Pro­tec­tion of Birds es­ti­mated that trap­pers in Cyprus killed 2.3 mil­lion mi­grat­ing birds in au­tumn 2016, up from 1.4 mil­lion in 2010 — mak­ing Cyprus the sec­ond-most deadly bird des­ti­na­tion in the Mediter­ranean, after the is­land of Malta.

“Whilst we think the le­gal frame­work is right, I think it is the means by which it en­forced that needs to be im­proved,” said CABS mem­ber An­drew Rose, who is cur­rently on pa­trol in Cyprus.

Some of this au­tumn’s first mi­grat­ing birds have al­ready been trapped by hunters. Through­out Septem­ber, the team is in east­ern Cyprus, where de­spite a na­tional and in­ter­na­tional ban on poach­ing, trap­ping rep­re­sents a se­vere threat to birds along their mi­gra­tion routes.

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