Cypriot police ignore mass killing of protected birds

Cypriot police ignore mass killing of protected birds

The massacre of protected birds perpetrated by hunters in Meneou, close to the residential area and the Pyrgos tis Rigenas grows bigger by the day.

After the initial recovery of 2 dead Swallows and 72 dead Bee-eaters, plus 2 injured Bee-eaters made by BirdLife Cyprus on Saturday 26th; CABS teams have continued monitoring the area for the past three days, witnessing once again what seems to be a common attitude by local hunters, or rather ‘poachers’ to shoot down any bird species that flies before their guns.

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Cypriot police ignore mass killing of protected birds

So far, an additional 100 dead Bee-eaters have been found, half a dozen of shot Swallows, a rare European Roller, a Hoopoe, a Kestrel and a Night Heron. The total number of bee-eaters killed is much higher than the ones discovered, as it is common for hunters to collect the birds once shot.

“Up to 50 hunters gather in the area every day, mostly over the weekend, – says Bostjan Debersek, CABS investigations officer – they don’t deny at all the fact that they are killing Bee-eaters and other protected species.

Even more, they seem to feel they are entitled to break the law. Although we collected video and material evidence of the crimes, the police station in Kiti refused to investigate further or maintain a police presence in the area”.

CABS note that it is not the first time the Kiti police has failed to fulfil their statutory duties in a hunting related matter. In Autumn 2019 dozens of hunters were observed using illegal electronic lures to hunt skylarks and when they came to realise that they were being monitored by CABS volunteers, the hunters started threatening the activists with a tirade of death threats.

A police patrol was called to the site, but instead of collecting the evidence of the illegal hunting and of the threats, shouted at the bird watchers, demanding they erase all the audio material.

“It’s clear that this attitude is not respectful of both Cypriot and European law and reflects a common sense by some authorities that hunting shouldn’t be disturbed, whether legal or not” – adds Alex Heyd, CABS CEO. “If hunters so blatantly break the law, it is pretty obvious that none has ever implemented the law here. This is the ultimate failure of the allegedly successful amendments of the hunting law made in July 2017”.

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Cypriot police ignore mass killing of protected birds

CABS observe that so far in autumn 2020, illegal hunting is totally out of control in Famagusta and Larnaka, a situation which is not dissimilar to that witnessed by the NGO in Lebanon. In total, 70 cases of illegal hunting were confirmed by the volunteers.

Although we are grateful for the quick response from the Game and Fauna Service for the cases reported, only 4 cases ended with prosecution.

CABS therefore demand the government to take immediate action by suspending the hunting season in this area which is <500 metres from residential areas and the lake and establishing a permanent police presence to monitor the ban.

This article was first published by Rare Bird Alert on 1 October 2020.

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