The amount of birds killed to supply restaurants with ingredients for a banned local dish has fallen dramatically after covert surveillance action
The number of songbirds being illegally killed on a UK military base in Cyprus to supply restaurants has fallen by 70% last year, wildlife experts said
More than 260,000 birds such as black caps and robins were trapped and killed last autumn at the British territory, the RSPB said.
But the figure is down 70% on the previous year’s estimate of 880,000 songbirds illegally killed to provide restaurants with the main ingredient for the local delicacy ambelopoulia – a plate of cooked songbirds.
Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said: “The reduction in the numbers of birds being illegally killed is a direct result of on-the-ground work by RSPB and Sovereign Base Area staff.
“The enforcement and the severity of sentences is also adding to the risks that would-be trappers take.
“We now need to finish removing the remaining non-native acacia bushes to make sure that there are no longer places where trappers can hide their nets. This is the long-term solution needed for these migrant birds.”
He added the Sovereign Base Area authorities should be congratulated for taking measures including exclusion orders, vehicle impoundments and removing illegal irrigation pipes used to boost the growth of acacia trees.
Martin Hellicar, director of BirdLife Cyprus, said: “Now is the time to re-double efforts and make sure we see a permanent end to large-scale trapping and the massive impact it has on our migrant birds.
“Increased and consistent enforcement action must be taken against law-breaking restaurants.”
An Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The Sovereign Base Area Administration is pleased that the enhanced efforts to counter bird trapping has finally resulted in a reduction in the number of bird deaths estimated by Birdlife.
“We are not complacent and recognise there is still much work to do. The MoD is, and will continue to be, actively committed to tackling illegal bird trapping inside the Sovereign Base Area.”