A day after the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds reported a decline in bird trapping in the British Base areas, song birds are back in the spotlight, this time thanks to BirdLife International.
The international organisation on Tuesday published a special feature on the Eurasian Blackcap – one of its seven flagship birds in a campaign to raise awareness of the scale of illegal killing of migratory birds.
“The Eurasian Blackcap’s beautiful song has inspired humanity for centuries. But in Cyprus today, it is silenced by industrial-level illegal trapping using invisible nets or glue sticks: all to fuel an unlawful trade in local delicacies, run by organised criminals. Could education be the solution,” it asks?
Nicknamed the ‘mock nightingale’, it migrates through the Mediterranean en route to European breeding grounds. Yet thousands end up in mist nests or glue coated limesticks to be served up as a ‘delicacy’ together with other songbirds.
This illegal practice is particularly widespread in Cyprus, where though banned since 1974, trading in ambelopoulia has become a large-scale black market industry.
Not only do mist nets decimate Blackcaps, but they have been found to catch at least 155 bird species, migratory and endemic.
According to a study by BirdLife Cyprus, 2.3 million birds were illegally killed in Cyprus during autumn 2016 alone.
The problem is particularly acute in eastern SBAs and has prompted action from the UK government as well as from BirdLife Cyprus. Their efforts are bearing fruit with trapping down to record levels in the SBAs, though BirdLife Cyprus yesterday expressed concern that trapping was up in the Republic.
Success requires not only enforcing laws but changing minds, young and old.
To this end, BirdLife Cyprus runs an education programme in schools where children can take on the persona of Ulysses the Eurasian Blackcap in a specially-designed board game, experiencing the challenges he faces on his epic migratory journey home.
Last year, BirdLife Cyprus also released a highly popular birdwatching book for children.
It has also produced the following video.
Video: BirdLife Cyprus
You can help the Eurasian Blackcap and other migratory birds by supporting the Flight to Survival campaign of BirdLife International. https://act-now.flightforsurvival.org/