Protestors gathered outside the Paralimni Police Station on Thursday night after a restaurant owner was arrested for firing shots into the air to warn off bird protection activists that had been attempting to walk onto his property.
According to police complaint by the CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) activists – said to be two British women aged 21 and 22 as well as two Italian men aged 39 and 45, the incident took place at around 9.30am in a field in Paralimni earlier on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Paralimni mayor Theodoros Pyrillis has accused the activists of breaking the law adding that they are continiously violate privacy and data protection laws in their pursuit of bird trappers in the area.
The activists from CABS claimed that they had found glue-covered perches, called limesticks, used to indiscriminately songbirds (ampelopoulia). Ampelopoulia are a controversial delicacy in Cyprus which has prompted debate at political level over its legality.
When they attempted to enter the field, they were warned off by a 50-year-old restaurant owner – who claimed to own the property – before he then fired warning shots into the air with his hunting shotgun.
Police later arrested the man and he was taken to the local police station for questioning at around 10pm.
It was at that point that residents in and around Paralimni gathered outside the station to protest against the man’s detention and the presence of the bird activists in the area.
The protest ended without incident after the 50-year-old was formally charged – with firing his gun in a non-designated hunting area – and released.
Activists and conservationists – including Birdlife Cyprus – have been in a continuous battle to safeguard the birds against the growing underground industry.
The birds are driven towards the limesticks and nets in the early morning by the trappers shouting and throwing stones into the bushes to flush the birds out.
A newer, and even more lethal method, involves the use of tape-recorded birdsong to attract the migrants to their deaths. The use of such recordings is illegal, but is becoming increasingly widespread.
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Some politicians have been accused of turning a blind eye to the poaching, and others have called for the law to be changed.
According to their Facebook page, CABS – which originated in Germany – have been in Cyprus conducting surveys.
“Following our first autumn field surveys in the British Sovereign Base Areas at Dhekelia, it looks like there are some positive changes may be on the horizon,” read a statement by the group.
“It is still too early to judge, since the trapping season has not yet fully kicked in, but we have definitely observed a significant decrease in active trapping. In Cape Pyla in one patrol last night, we noted 17 electronic (blackcap) decoys, still large numbers, but a marked reduction compared to 36 noted during the same period last Autumn.”
“We will continue our field investigations as the trapping season progresses and work closely with the SBA police, in order to maintain these positive outcomes throughout the whole season and beyond.”