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Cypriots kill a million migratory birds: conservationist

Greek bird group blasts hunting in protected wetlands
A leading local bird association denounced Tuesday the killing by hunters of 15 pink flamingos in a protected wetlands area in western Greece. "Once again, the massive slaughter of 15 pink flamingos during the month of February underscores the total lack of protection" in the Gulf of Amvrakikos, the Hellenic Ornithological Society said in a statement. One of the largest lagoons in the Mediterranean region, the Gulf of Amvrakikos is among 10 wetlands protected by the 1971 Convention on Wetlands to which Greece is a signatory. The area has been blacklisted by the international convention since 2007 for lack of adequate environmental protection. In 2005, the European Court of Justice also condemned Greece on the same grounds.
by Staff Writers
Nicosia (AFP) March 10, 2009
More than one million migratory birds were illegally trapped and killed over the past year to feed an illicit Cypriot taste for such delicacies, a conservationist group said on Tuesday.

A survey by Birdlife Cyprus carried out between March 2008 and February 2009 showed that more than 1.1 million birds were indiscriminately killed with mist nets and limesticks, with estimated killings at a five-year high.

These methods are used to catch black caps and song thrushes, much sought after delicacies in Cyprus that fetch five euros (6.40 dollars) each at restaurants, making the illegal trade a lucrative one.

"When push comes to shove and the 'delicacies' on peoples' plates are at stake, decision makers just don't want to know," Birdlife manager Martin Hellicar told AFP.

He said a clampdown on restaurants was needed to prevent Cyprus revisiting the 1990s when up to 10 million birds were killed.

A huge crackdown on trappers and restaurants was enforced before Cyprus joined the European Union in May 2004, but now conservationists say the government lacks the political will to eradicate the trade.

"Bird trapping is coming back to haunt us in a big way and the reason is simple -- packets of money to be made."

During the winter, millions of birds take refuge in Cyprus from colder northern climates.

An estimated 57 species that are listed as threatened or in need of protection are snared in illegal Cypriot traps.

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