In 2008 more than 1.1 million birds were illegally slaughtered in Cyprus by trappers eager to feed a lucrative demand for banned Warbler ’delicacies’
Cyprus lies on a key migratory route; for years now bird trapping has been a very common activity. Trappers use either fine mist nets or sticks dipped in sticky lime.
The trend showed that last winter mist netting activities considerably increased, while the trapping reached the highest level for five years. Approximately, 90 % of the migratory birds which fly over Cyprus each year are protected.
"It is an unacceptable toll and a depressing trend, which ever way you look at it", said Martin Hellicar, Executive Manager at Birdlife Cyprus. BirdLife Cyprus have been systematically monitoring illegal trapping with mist nets and limesticks since 2002, with the support of the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK).
"We have been collecting condemning data on this problem for years, but when it comes to the ‘delicacies‘ on peoples' plates, decision makers don't really want to know" —Martin Hellicar, Executive Manager at Birdlife Cyprus
Trappers usually target Song Thrushes Turdus philomelos or migrant birds such as Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla, which are then served in restaurants as ambelopoulia 'delicacies', for up to five Euros a piece. The trapping methods are so indiscriminate that up to 100 species of bird are known to have been captured.
"Bird trapping is coming back to haunt us in a big way and the reason is the same as it has always been: there is a lot of money to be made out of it, and it will continue as long as restaurants are allowed to break the law”, said Hellicar.
The banned bird delicacies remain widely available, because in 2008 only 9 restaurateurs were charged for serving ambelopoulia.
"We have been collecting condemning data on this problem for years, but when it comes to the ‘delicacies‘ on peoples' plates, decision makers don't really want to know."
A report on the situation, compiled by Birdlife Cyprus and RSPB, has been submitted to the Wildlife Committee of the Council of Europe, the Cypriot government and the European Commission.
In response to worrying declines, BirdLife has launched the Born to Travel Campaign to protect migratory waterbirds, soaring birds and songbirds along the African-Eurasian flyway. Born to Travel is a perfect example of how effectively our unique BirdLife Network meshes together as a united force to take action for conservation.