By Waylon Fairbanks
The bi-annual Bird Protection Report released on Wednesday accused the authorities of hampering environmental groups’ efforts to document and prevent the illegal poaching of song birds.
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and the Foundation Pro Biodiversity (SPA) conducted a study between April 5 and May 5 to collect data and enforce anti-poaching laws in joint operation with Cypriot police. However, political opposition, first from disgruntled hunters and later from the justice ministry, halted efforts to confiscate hunting traps, the report said.
“This capitulation to pressure by undemocratic and criminal elements epitomises environmental injustice and public disorder – the exact opposite of the mandate of the ministry,” the report said, in a scathing attack.
Opposition toward the conservationist effort developed from small demonstrations in Paralimni, as hunters and landowners accused activists of trespassing and destroying property. Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou addressed the grievances by issuing several statements condemning the activists’ alleged actions. The police’s anti-poaching squad were withdrawn during the last week of the study, severely limiting the work the conservationists could carry out.
“CABS and SPA reject out of hand the ill-founded and ludicrous accusations raised,” the report said, committing much of its length to disputing accusations.
The report monitored 356 trapping sites – 73 of which were newly established since the last report in autumn last year. Twenty-one poachers were also arrested for non-selective trapping or illegal possession of protected species.
While bird hunting is a regulated sport in Cyprus, the use of limesticks is illegal, as it indiscriminately kills migratory birds, some of which are protected species. More....