A 65 year old man was arrested in the Famagusta area in possession of 250 Ambelloboulia , air guns, rifles and nets. He was later taken to Xylophagou Police Station.
Ambelopoulia is a controversial dish of pickled or boiled songbirds served in some Cypriot restaurants. It is illegal in Cyprus as it involves trapping wild birds such as Blackcaps and European Robins. Trapping kills birds indiscriminately, thus internationally protected species of migratory birds are killed as well. Enforcement of the ban has been lax, so many restaurants serve the dish without consequence. As a result almost 2,418,000 birds across the whole of Cyprus are estimated to have been killed during 2010.
The birds are trapped in either of two ways. Black, fine-mesh nylon fishing nets, which are difficult to see, are strung between trees. Electronic bird calls lure the birds to entangle their wings and legs. Others are trapped using glue sticks made from the berries of a local tree or birdlime. The glue sticks are placed on the branches of trees, and any birds that perch on them are stuck until the trapper returns to kill them (usually with a tooth pick to the throat). Often the legs of the birds are so stuck to the glue sticks that they need to be pulled off.
The trappers defend their activity by citing the practice as traditional Cypriot hunting; even though the practice has been illegal since 1974.BirdLife Cyprus has identified restaurants as the main culprits as they provide the financial incentives. The birds reportedly sell for five euros each. Since the entrails of the birds are not removed, as it is not cost effective to do so, the consumer is encouraged to swallow the bird whole.
Poaching for ambelopoulia has been on the rise in recent years involving by 2011 a “mafia-like operation” that include poachers, dealers, exporters, and restaurant operators that participate in the illegal business estimated to be worth about 5 million Euro.