By Irini Chassiotou
I do not know if it could be considered an exaggeration, but personally I avoid killing everything that has life, from ants and spiders found in my house, to even flowers in my garden in order to put them in a vase, no matter how much I like them. So it seems to me absurd to hear about people who find pleasure in killing birds and animals. They wear their uniforms, get hold of their shotguns and release the dogs just in order to kill a few small birds.
In Cyprus, hunting is controlled in accordance with the law “On the Protection and Management of Wild Birds and Hunting”, in which hunted species are determined by a decree issued by the Minister of Interior for each hunting season. For example, for the hunting period of 2011-2012 it was determined that 34 species (one mammal — rabbit and 33 birds) were legal to hunt. By the same law, the responsible authority for the control of hunting is the Hunting and Fauna Service, which has the roles the protection, development, research and rational management of prey species and other fauna of Cyprus.
According to a recent study by the Service, the number of hunting licenses issued for the year 2011-2012 was 46,365. At the same time only 1% of hunters (of 472 questioned) questioned responded to a telephone survey on the biggest problems faced by prey in Cyprus. Half of those that did respond (2 of 4) answered that poaching and over-hunting are the biggest problems. Over-hunting, lawful or not, refers to various forms of killing animals and birds, and affects the conservation of various species, especially in numbers. It is associated with hunting protected species or a greater number than authorized as well as practicing illegal hunting methods, like using nets, mimetic devices (mimicry), lime sticks, etc. It can also be the result of miscalculations by the responsible authorities regarding the permitted animals or periods and hunting areas. Every year about 350 cases of poaching are reported, which are related to hunting during the night or within protected and prohibited hunting areas or using prohibited means.
Birds are among the most effected species by trapping and poaching, especially during migration periods in autumn and spring, due to the use of non-selective prohibited methods such as nets and lime sticks. The main reason of trapping is the collection of ambelopoulia (Sylvia atricapilla) and other migratory birds, which are sold illegally in restaurants and other places for consumption. The organization BirdLife conducted a survey from 2002 until now and according to official figures there have been over 152 species illegally caught, 78 of which are either in Annex I of the European Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC) or in the list of threatened species by BirdLife International. Only in 2011 it was estimated that more than 2.8 million birds were trapped in the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.
And I am still wondering: what is the point of going through so much trouble in order to kill birds that are at the edge of extinction? Where is the pleasure in that?