Cyprus poachers kill 2.3 million songbirds in 2016

March 16, 2017
This 2013 photo by RSPB and Birdlife Cyprus shows a Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) caught on a limestick

Poachers in Cyprus killed an estimated 2.3 million birds in autumn 2016, including 800,000 on a British military base, conservation groups said Thursday.

Poaching is banned on the Mediterranean island but including robins and blackcaps are regularly trapped and served as an illegal delicacy called "ambelopoulia".

The , including several species that use Cyprus as a key stop-off point on their migration between Europe and Africa, are trapped with nets or glue-covered perches called limesticks.

BirdLife Cyprus and Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said poaching rates were around their highest ever, with criminal gangs earning millions from the activity.

Britain's Dhekelia military base was "the worst bird killing hotspot in the whole of Cyprus", the RSPB said.

The group's Jonathan Hall called on the UK government "to crack down on this activity and end the illegal killing of songbirds in Dhekelia".

Britain retained sovereignty over two military base areas when Cyprus won independence in 1960 and has a police force in Dhekelia that tackles poachers.

But the conservation groups said it was not doing enough, saying poachers were making "blatant and extensive use of electronic calling devices" on a firing range there.

They said the most effective weapon against poaching was the removal of non-native Acacia trees, planted by trappers to lure in the birds. But they said British authorities had largely abandoned efforts to remove the trees after protests from the illegal trapping community.

Britain's defence ministry said it was committed to tackling illegal bird trapping, with "a record number of arrests, equipment seizures, prosecutions and fines".

"For the second year running we have halted the rising trend in numbers of birds killed," a spokesperson said.

BirdLife Cyprus chief Martin Hellicar also urged the Cypriot government to take "serious action against restaurants illegally serving ambelopoulia".

Explore further: More than two million migratory birds killed in Cyprus

Related Stories

Migrating birds stop off in Cyprus at their peril

May 20, 2014

Under the cover of night, activists patrol key poaching sites in southeast Cyprus, described as an ecological disaster zone for endangered migratory birds on their Mediterranean stopover.

Rare falcons shot in Cyprus

October 12, 2007

Hunters in Cyprus have shot about 50 endangered red-footed falcons, which migrate through the island in the spring and fall.

Fake crane project brings birds back to Britain

November 8, 2016

Conservationists dressed in crane costumes have helped bring the graceful grey birds back to Britain's wetlands after they were hunted to near extinction as a delicacy in the Middle Ages.

Image: Cyprus from Sentinel 2A

March 11, 2016

The third largest island in the Mediterranean, Cyprus is about 240 km long and 100 km wide. It is located on the Anatolian plate and therefore belongs geologically to Asia, but politically it is a member of the EU.

Recommended for you

Re-cloning of first cloned dog deemed successful thus far

November 22, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Seoul National University, Michigan State University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has re-cloned the first dog to be cloned. In their paper published in the journal ...

Testing the advantage of being left-handed in sports

November 22, 2017

(Phys.org)—Sports scientist Florian Loffing with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Oldenburg in Germany has conducted a study regarding the possibility of left-handed athletes having an advantage over their ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.