Patrols launched to clip wings of bird poachers
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.