Cypriot authorities have, for the first time, imposed fines for the poison bait killing of rare wild birds, conservationists on the Mediterranean island said Monday.
An individual was fined a total of 21,000 euros (about $23,000) last week, BirdLife Cyprus said, after three birds of prey were found dead on a rural property in the southern district of Limassol.
BirdLife project coordinator Melbo Apostolido said in a statement that the punishment “represents a major step forward that it is hoped will have a strong deterrent effect on similar illegal acts.”
“It is the first time in Cyprus that the crime of baiting and killing wild birds with poison has been prosecuted.”
The crimes occurred in December 2021 when two rare Bonelli vultures and a long-legged falcon were found dead near the village of Dierona after a GPS transmitter equipped with one of the vultures led authorities to the discovery.
Also Read: Mpumalanga man jailed for keeping drum pangolins at home
Apostolido said evidence collected linked the deaths to the suspect who was found to have killed the animals deliberately to “protect the chickens” from the birds.
Under Cypriot law, courts can impose prison sentences of up to three years or fines of up to €20,000, or a combination of the two for each offence.
Birds from Spain
BirdLife has called the use of poison baits in the countryside a crime against wildlife, saying it has pushed famous species including the griffon vulture to the brink of extinction in Cyprus.
Once a common sight over Cyprus – in the 1950s there were several hundred large scavengers across the island – there are now believed to be only nine griffon vultures left.
Also Read: HELP SAVE SA’s Struggling Eagles
Since 2005, 31 vultures have been poisoned and attempts are being made to resupply the population with the birds from Spain.
Apostolido called on the authorities to do more to prevent poisonings.