Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas bird trapping and shooting

Cyprus warbler; Copyright: Michael Gore CVO, CBE, FRPS
Cyprus warbler; Copyright: Michael Gore CVO, CBE, FRPS

Each year, millions of migrating songbirds are trapped in mist-nets or on limed sticks and turned into a local ‘delicacy’, ambelopoulia, where the birds are grilled, boiled or pickled and eaten whole.  In 2011 alone, 2.8 million songbirds were trapped across Cyprus. Cape Pyla, in the Eastern Sovereign Base Areas, is a hot spot for this activity and habitat there is managed by illegal trappers for this purpose.

Although Blackcaps Sylvia atricapilla are the main target for this illegal trapping, a shocking 152 species have been recorded in mist-nets to date. Of these, 83 species are listed as threatened under Annex I of the EU Birds Directive.

We have outlined this issue in several editions of Forum News including recently a detailed article in Forum News [issues 35, 46, 47]. We have also raised the issue with UK Government during regular meetings with officials.

 In 2017, this issue received quite a lot of media attention. BirdLife Cyprus continues their long-term campaign against the trapping. Recently covert recording equipment, as used in the UK, has been used to provide evidence in court in order to prosecute trappers.