One songbird is illegally trapped or killed every four seconds to provide residents of Cyprus with ingredients for a dish called ambelopoulia, according to Wildlife Extra. Quoting Tim Stowe, the Royal Society for the Protection of Bird’s (RSPB) international director, the online wildlife news publication reports that this mass slaughter takes place twice every year despite European, Cypriot, and Sovereign Base Area law that prohibits either trapping or killing wild birds.
Often not far from popular tourist destinations, trappers use mist nets and lime sticks to catch mostly whitethroats and blackcaps. They then sell the birds to restaurants, where they are either boiled or pickled. Since the beginning of September, this fate has befallen more than one million songbirds on their annual migration between Europe and Africa.
BirdLife Cyprus has been monitoring the situation in Cyprus since the annual bird-trapping season started in September. They are in the process of gathering signatures in order to pressure local ministers to step up their efforts to cull this banned practice.
Pickled birds for a song. Watch this video on how it’s done:
More than 11,000 people have already added their signatures to the petition.
Ten days ago, Cyprus Mail reported that members of the anti-poaching unit of the Cypriot Police raided 13 homes throughout Aradippou, Maroni and Lefkara and arrested 6 people who had stored a total of 550 protected wild songbirds.
Despite these important arrests, RSPB is concerned that if the local authorities don’t step up their anti-poaching enforcement program, especially to target restaurants that serve ambelopoulia, the number of songbirds that are plucked out the sky could reach epic proportions.
The birds are taken from areas that are popular among tourists, including Ayia Napa, and inside UK-administered Sovereign Base Areas such as Dhekelia, according to WD.
BirdLife Cyprus stresses that non-selective trapping on this scale – whereby hundreds of thousands of bird species that are not good for pickling also get caught in the nets – is “ecologically disastrous” and needs to be addressed urgently.
More on birdlife conservation in the Middle East and Mediterranean:
Nature Iraq Promotes World Migratory Day
Birds in Iran Migrate to less Polluted Cities
One Vulture’s Tagged Migration or Zionist Plot?
image via 10000 birds