This report presents the latest findings of the on-going and systematic BirdLife Cyprus surveillance programme on illegal bird trapping, relating to the spring 2017 season, while also providing a concise overview of the current situation regarding this issue on the island. This report is aimed mainly at top decision makers and politicians, with the aim of informing, raising awareness and generating momentum for more effective action to tackle this chronic and persistent ecological problem.
Illegal bird trapping activity with the use of mist nets and limesticks continued during spring 2017, as shown by the survey data from the systematic surveillance programme of BirdLife Cyprus. The overall spring pattern in recent years has shown a significant decrease in illegal bird trapping activity levels compared to the past – 2017 recorded the lowest levels of spring bird trapping activity, with a decrease of 98% compared to spring 2007. Nonetheless, even with these relatively low levels, it is estimated that for spring 2017 nearly 20,000 birds could have been killed within the survey area based on BirdLife Cyprus’ field data.
These very low levels of spring bird trapping in Cyprus, an important stopover along the Africa-Eurasia migratory flyway, will have resulted in thousands of birds travelling more safely to their breeding sites, a key element in the preservation of any migratory species. However, BirdLife Cyprus would like to emphasize that spring trapping cannot be taken as a reliable barometer of the overall trapping situation in Cyprus – as with previous spring seasons of low trapping activity (2012-2016), they were followed by very high trapping levels during the main autumn trapping seasons. BirdLife Cyprus will remain cautious until after autumn 2017, which will provide a far better picture of the overall trapping situation in Cyprus. The analysis of the survey data was undertaken using the TRIM programme, with guidance from RSPB (partner of BirdLife International in the UK).
The low enforcement action for spring 2017 by all 3 competent authorities (Game and Fauna Service, Cyprus Police APU and SBA Police APU) is also indicative of the low spring trapping activity. However, BirdLife would like to stress that spring trapping problem is still present and sufficient enforcement resources should be allocated and maintained for this season by both the Cyprus Republic and the SBA Administration, before it can be claimed that the spring trapping problem in Cyprus has been solved. Furthermore, enforcement against restaurants serving ambelopoulia, found in the Cyprus Republic, has been very limited especially in the last 2 years (1 restaurant prosecution for years 2015 and 2016 respectively), a key issue. The European Commission has repeatedly called upon the Republic to take effective measures in order to stop the offer and consumption of protected species in these law breaking restaurants.Publication date: October 2, 2017