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Cyprus: stopping poachers in their tracks

Cyprus constitutes one of the most important migratory routes for birds in Europe. The island hosts 385 bird species, 332 of which are migratory. Although the use of non-selective bird trapping methods is illegal according to both Cypriot and European legislation, every year millions of birds are trapped and killed by poachers. As a result, dozens of resident and migrant species are either suffering a large decline in their populations or are already in danger of extinction. At the same time, illegal bird trapping has supported the establishment and development of a well-organised and wealthy criminal network.
Cyprus: stopping poachers in their tracksCampaigners collect and dismantle limesticks in Larnaca districtFriends of the Earth Cyprus has been assessing the impacts of poaching for many years and has launched several public awareness campaigns. But a recent escalation in serious criminal attacks against public servants and environmental activists, combined with efforts to weaken poaching legislation, spurred Friends of the Earth Cyprus to join forces with the German-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and launch a new campaign against poaching. 


They published a report on spring trapping in Cyprus, and set up a cyberaction. But they also took a direct, practical approach: they organised a bird protection camp and conducted several non-violent direct actions in the districts of Larnaca and Famagusta. Within a week they had located and dismantled 934 limesticks, 11 mist nets and 9 electronic decoys. They also released dozens of protected birds and recorded dozens of bird trapping activities and sites.

Above all they have managed to expose the killing fields of migratory birds in Cyprus, to reveal the real intentions of irresponsible politicians at the national level, and to play a catalytic role in the voting down of the proposed amendment weakening existing poaching legislation. They also promoted a zero tolerance policy against poaching in Cyprus.


As a result the responsible authorities carried out a wave of anti-poaching operations in the following two months, the first since Cyprus’s accession to the EU in 2004.


"Friends of the Earth Cyprus is at the forefront of the struggle against illegal bird trapping in Cyprus and the work they do in this field is admirable, especially if someone takes into consideration the fact that in many cases this is done under difficult conditions with fears for one’s personal safety".


Charalambos Theopemptou, Commissioner of the Environment in the Republic of Cyprus


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