NICOSIA, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) — The Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) that Britain maintains on Cyprus said Friday that there would be no respite for hunting down poachers catching songbirds.
SBA spokesman Sean Tally said in a statement that authorities had already started their campaign against trappers by pulling out two kilometers of irrigation pipes laid by “criminal gangs” to prepare for poaching at the start of the bird’s migratory season.
Tally said the irrigation pipes were placed illegally to help acacia trees grow quickly so as to be used for the spreading of mist nets.
Catching songbirds, which are sold in restaurants as a gourmet delicacy, is illegal in Cyprus under European Union (EU) legislation.
Poachers and those with songbirds in their possession face steep fines and prison sentences.
However, many millions of birds are trapped, mostly during the months of September and October, during their temporary stay on the island.
Sources familiar with the issue say that restaurants, which are known only to a closed circle, charge up to 10 euros for each bird, thus making poaching a lucrative business.
Both Cypriot and SBA authorities cooperate closely in fighting poaching but are always one-step behind the trappers who protect each other.
Tally said that the SBA anti-poaching police squad had confiscated more than 800 mist nets and other poaching material worth 75,000 euros from September 2016 to March 2017.
Specialists estimate that the confiscated mist nets could trap up to 400,000 birds.