By Poly Pantelides
CYPRUS may be losing millions of euros in tourism revenues every year because of the negative publicity from the state’s tolerance of illegal bird trapping, the cruelty of which has resulted in thousands of complaints to authorities, a conservation organisation has said.
|A bird stuck on a limestick|
A Terra Cypria study said 5,200 people from 81 countries wrote to Cypriot authorities in 2010 – when New Yorker magazine reported on illegal bird trapping on the island – to say they would not be visiting the island because of the practice.
Of those, 3,900 hailed from countries that traditionally visit Cyprus. Using Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) figures on how much those people would have spent on their visit, the direct loss of revenue was estimated at €4 million. As a rule of thumb, Terra Cypria said that the CTO assumes that for every person bothering to write, ten others did not, raising the loss of potential revenue to an estimated €41 million.
The illegal trapping market is worth some €12 million a year.
BirdLife Cyprus estimates that 2.5 million birds are illegally trapped every year in Cyprus, including threatened and endangered species. Caught on limesticks or mist nets, the birds face a slow and painful death. Tiny songbirds, locally known as ambelopoulia, end up served as the tastiest of delicacies. Others are killed and thrown away as collateral damage. BirdLife says the trappers consider it bad luck to free trapped birds.