NICOSIA - Conservationists are calling for anti-poaching activities to receive more police support after Cyprus was reprimanded by the European Commission over its nonchalant stance towards rampant bird trapping on the island.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, Campaigns Manager for BirdLife Cyprus Martin Hellicar said police involvement in anti-poaching operations is currently non-existent.
“This is a huge step backwards compared to previous years and a huge disappointment as illegal bird trapping on the island has been on an upward trend since 2007.”
The conservationist said any support from the police will help in the fight against poaching but noted that the problem is multifaceted and requires a comprehensive approach.
“We are currently working on a strategic plan that includes every authority and organisation in Cyprus involved in the fight against poaching. Each authority will have a specific part to play and with increased cooperation we believe there will be positive results.”
The European Commission on Thursday urged authorities in Cyprus to ensure that anti-poaching activities of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and other environmental organisations receive necessary police support.
In an answer to a Parliamentary question, European Commissioner for the Environment Janec Potocnik declared Brussels considers police cooperation with non-governmental organisations fighting illegal bird trapping as a key element of enforcement efforts in Cyprus.
“We will continue to closely monitor measures taken in Cyprus to combat bird trapping and will consider further action on the matter after receiving and assessing the autumn 2013 trapping data, as well as the national strategy of Cyprus for combating illegal bird trapping,” said Potocnik.
In a statement CABS said the cooperation of their volunteers with Cyprus police as well as the Game Fund was particularly successful in 2011 and 2012 and paid off with an increasing number of poachers being reported and prosecuted.
However since the end of spring 2013, Cypriot authorities have withdrawn their support and obstructed volunteers despite the latter reporting numerous cases of illegal trapping and repeated acts of violence against them. Since then, requests for cooperation and assistance by CABS to police headquarters and district police divisions have been systematically rejected or ignored.
As a result, official complaints were sent to the Ombudsman in Cyprus, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, the Directorate General for Environment of the European Commission and the Secretariat of the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats.