Police on British military bases in Cyprus have used drones and night vision goggles to turn the tide in a campaign against illegal trappers catching and killing hundreds of thousands of songbirds
Officers working with forces personnel estimate they have cut the number of migratory songbirds caught in trappers’ nets by as much as 70 per cent and destroyed large amounts of kit used to catch them
The year-long crackdown on illegal bird poaching on the British sovereign bases in Cyprus has resulted in a “huge” drop in the number of poachers operating inside the bases’ territory
Small migratory birds such as blackcaps are considered a traditional delicacy by some Cypriots and sophisticated trapping feeds a multimillion-pound illicit trade.
Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary, said: “Bird trapping is not only a cruel and barbaric trade, it lines the pockets of criminal gangs to the tune of thousands of pounds.
“Thanks to the fantastic work of our Armed Forces and the Sovereign Base Police there has been a 70 per cent fall in the number of birds killed in the Sovereign Base Areas. By seizing and destroying the tools criminals use, we are protecting migratory birds and hitting bird trappers in the pocket. And by doubling the number of thermal image drones used to catch the poachers, we will strive for even more positive results.”