The illegal shooting of a rare, beautiful and strictly protected Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) this autumn highlighted the plight of Akhna dam, an important wetland that is currently plagued by poachers and illegal bird trappers using shot-guns, mist nets and limesticks.
BirdLife Cyprus is calling for urgent anti-poaching action to change the Famagusta area wetland from a poachers’ “playground” to the sanctuary for breeding waders and migrating birds that it should be by law.
Bird watchers have reported an unusually large number of ospreys passing through Akhna dam during September and October, using it as a stopover on their migratory journey from northern Europe, where they breed, to their African wintering grounds. However even this magnificent bird species did not escape the attention of the poachers and one was found shot dead this month.
Despite the protection status the dam has, there is a serious problem with poaching and illegal bird trapping in the area. The incident of the shot Osprey is not an isolated one but on the contrary, poaching in the Akhna dam has become extensive, Birdlife said. “Furthermore illegal bird trapping with non-selective methods such as mist nets and limesticks has been widespread this autumn, both at Akhna Dam and more widely, contributing to large scale killing of birds, many of them threatened. This equates to an ecological disaster,” it added.