Why Is The Illegal Cyprus Songbird Slaughter Still Allowed?

ambelopouliaLatest research by the RSPB and BirdLife Cyprus have found that over 800,000 birds were trapped and killed illegally on a British military base in Cyprus last autumn and used as the main ingredient for the local and expensive delicacy of ambelopoulia, illegally served to restaurant diners. To prove how the law against eating these birds is easily flouted without fear of prosecution you only have to read about Evgenios Hamboullas, a member of the Environment Committee in the south’s House of Representatives, uploading an image of this meal on Facebook with the caption: “Soon in our restaurants! Happy Holidays!”

Noting that the British Sovereign Base Area staff have worked hard to reduce the number of songbirds killed Jonathan Hall, Head of UK Overseas Territories at the RSPB, said:

“The RSPB congratulates the British Sovereign Base Area for taking important steps in tackling the illegal killing occurring on MoD land. Approximately one third of the invasive acacia trees which were planted on the firing range to attract migrant birds have been removed and these efforts are to be congratulated.

“However, we are disappointed that the numbers of birds still being trapped for huge profit by organised gangs remains unacceptably high and the rest of this illegal-killing infrastructure needs to be removed in order to put an end to this barbaric practice.”

The illegal bird trapping is taking place on an industrial scale, both with mist nets and limesticks covering as much as 19 km during the autumn of 2015 and probably resulting in over 2 million birds killed across the island as a whole. Dr Clairie Papazoglou, Executive Director of BirdLife Cyprus, said:

“The scale of the trapping found within the survey area has to be seen to be believed. Long avenues of planted acacia trees that resemble vineyards with mounds of gravel at one side.

“The gravel is brought in by truck and is thrown to scare the birds into the nets. More needs to be done to reduce the trapping and prosecute restaurants serving up these birds in the Republic. A consistent zero tolerance must be adopted.”

Although arrests are taking place on the trapping fields, police action against restaurants serving ambelopoulia are almost non existent. These restaurants are exclusively found in the south where it has been illegal for 40 years, since it was outlawed in 1974.

Cyprus has two songbirds that breed nowhere else in the world: the Cyprus warbler and the Cyprus wheatear. Both of these songbirds have been found illegally trapped.

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5 comments to Why Is The Illegal Cyprus Songbird Slaughter Still Allowed?

  • Miltiades

    Its a disgraceful so called ” cultural” activity and a stigma on Cyprus that such beautiful birds are killed in their thousands so that some pseudo “connoisseur” can enjoy a few grams of meat.

    The fact that the law does not fall hard on those that are engaged in the mass slaughter of these birds as well as those that sell them in restaurants its an insult to the vast majority of Cypriots who are abhorrent to this practice.

  • AM

    Do something about it then…. Simple

  • Jerry

    Simple, write to your British MP.


  • Miltiades

    A year or so ago a European delegation visited Cyprus precisely in search of those involved in this illegal practice of killing ambelopoulia, songbirds. Amongst the delegation was a lady Doctor who dedicated her self to the preservation of these beautiful birds giving up medicine, She was Bulgarian.

    Alas I was unable to meet her in Cyprus due to personal commitments here in London.

    We exchanged emails daily and was informed by her of the extreme and rather ferocious animosity towards her and her team, she referred to this cruel practice as one run by mafia.

    She asked if she could stay for a few days in my Limassol apartment which was empty and of course I promptly arranged for her to contact my brother who lives in Limassol and has a key to the apartment.

    Her enthusiasm and drive is admirable by this wonderful lady and her contribution to the stumping out of this practice admirable.

    Alas this ” cultural” practice has been deeply embedded in the psychic of some Cypriots who proudly announce their liking of this so called delicacy.

    At every opportunity when in Cyprus I condemn most strongly this cruel thoughtless ” culture” and so do many other Cypriots.

    I prefer the delicacy of ….ameletita on the charcoal.

  • fluter

    I find this practice as abhorrent as I do the breeding of “game birds” for shooting in the UK.