BirdLife Cyprus yesterday backed a call by European conservationist organisations for cooperation from the authorities and a zero-tolerance policy against songbird poaching on the island.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, campaigns manager for BirdLife Cyprus Martin Hellicar agreed with the statement by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the Foundation Pro Biodiversity (SPA) that a zero-tolerance policy against songbird poaching should not be just a rhetorical political statement but an actual consistent and permanent effort by all political authorities.
"We agree completely with this overall message as poaching in some areas of Cyprus is completely out of control and unless there is political will to change the current situation we will never see an end to this," said Hellicar.
Commenting its 2013 bird trapping report for Cyprus, CABS said its volunteers did not receive any operational support from the police during field operations.
"Despite this fact CABS volunteers were able to monitor 176 trapping sites, in which they located, recorded and dismantled 4,419 limesticks, 60 mist nets and 85 electronic decoys," said the report.
Furthermore, some 300 limesticks were seen, but left in fenced private properties, while 51 more electronic decoys were located exactly, but left on the spot either because they were found in fenced private properties or for reasons of volunteers' security, it added.
According to CABS, until spring 2013 Bird Protection Camps (BPC) were conducted with the full knowledge of and in close cooperation with all responsible public authorities and law enforcement agencies.
"However, after the initial successful operations and a number of prosecutions in the main trapping area of Famagusta, trappers began to create political pressure in the major trapping hotspot of Paralimni."
The organisations said that as a result cooperation with the competent law enforcement agencies of Cyprus was temporarily suspended by the newly appointed Minister of Justice.
CABS and SPA warn that unless the attitude is reversed and the zero-tolerance policy is applied throughout the island, then the government and the Administration of the British Sovereign Base Areas should be accountable for permitting the creation of no-go areas where organised wildlife crime can flourish unchallenged and Cyprus and European legislation can be wilfully contravened, without fear of prosecution.
"CABS and SPA consider this boycott to be part of a wider strategy of the responsible political authorities of the Republic of Cyprus to hinder anti-trapping operations and turn a blind eye to the trappers."