Crime against wild birds in Cyprus remains out of control, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) in Cyprus said on Thursday as it castigated government efforts to play down the problem.
In a post on Facebook, the NGo said that volunteers had discovered 456 cases of wildlife crime in the past 30 months.
“The recent data submitted to the Parliament by the Minister of Justice George Savvides gives the impression that illegal trapping and hunting has drastically decreased and that there was therefore no requirement to retain the Anti-Poaching Squad of the Cyprus police. CABS believe that this is a poor manoeuvre to throw dust into the eyes of law-abiding citizens and cover the complete failure from the authorities to effectively tackle these phenomena,” it said.
According to CABS, between July 2017 (since the new law came into force) until December 2019, CABS has reported 80 cases of illegal hunting and as many as 376 cases of illegal trapping to the enforcement agencies in the Republic.
“The majority of cases were reported to the Game and Fauna Service, but it was a forced choice, considering that the Anti-Poaching Squad was rarely on duty and its performances were very poor after the unit was progressively and systematically undermined” – said Alexander Heyd, CABS General Director.
CABS believe it is not a coincidence that after the new higher fines were introduced, the only unit which had performed the most important and significant prosecutions was crippled and subsequently dismantled.
“We believe this was the plan: to give an appearance of efficiency, whereas in reality no longer disrupting this criminal activity which seems to have very strong allies in central government”.
Moreover, in the last 30 months, only one out of six of the reported cases resulted in a prosecution, a very low rate, compared with the results achieved by other enforcement agencies abroad, it added.
“All these data will now be submitted to the European Commission to prove once again the non-compliance of the Republic of Cyprus with the minimum standards required by the EU Birds Directives,” the NGO concluded.