More Than 435,000 Songbirds on Cyprus Killed to Make Delicacy Dish

NICOSIA – Repeated attempts to stop the slaughter of songbirds on Cyprus, which are considered  delicacy and often sold to restaurants, have failed, a new report finding that more than 435,000 more were killed in the autumn of 2023.

That was published by BirdLife Cyprus and supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said that was an increase of 90,000, Cypriots refusing to give up eating a kind of national dish.

Cyprus acts as a strategically important stop-off point for vast numbers of birds including blackcaps and garden warblers on their annual migration from their breeding grounds in Europe to their winter home in Africa, said BBC Wildlife


Every autumn birds are trapped and killed by criminal gangs using mist nets and sticky limesticks hidden in vegetation before being sold to restaurants where they are eaten as a local and expensive delicacy, the report said.

It wasn’t indicated if they are on the menu or sold surreptitiously and why authorities haven’t been able to stop it. Twenty years ago, over two million birds were being unlawfully caught every year and more than 10 million birds were trapped in the 1990s.

Since then, Cypriot law enforcement authorities have worked with BirdLife Cyprus, CABS and the RSPB, which has led to a massive reduction in the number of traps being detected and birds being killed, said BBC Wildlife.


In the autumn of 2023, the work of the anti-poaching unit of the British military base in Cyprus was scaled back, which the report believes was a significant factor behind the increase in the number of birds being killed.

“For two decades our international partnership has shown that we can work together to tackle this criminal activity through direct action on the ground backed up by enforcement action. However, this autumn shows that more still needs to be done,” said Mark Thomas, head of RSPB investigations.

“We cannot allow the progress we have made to be undone and the shocking levels of songbird killings to return to the abhorrent levels we once saw. By working together we can make this a thing of the past,” he said.

Autumn is the main trapping period in Cyprus as that’s when migrating birds have built up their fat reserves in preparation for their long-haul journey to Africa where they spend the winter, people who eat them believing they are tastier because of that.


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