Two environmental activists, who were monitoring illegal bird trapping activities in Larnaca, were assaulted last week by a female poacher who also bit them before wildlife officers could arrive.
According to the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS), two of their members were keeping track of a known illegal trapping site near Kofinou, Larnaca District, where they discovered limesticks and bird imitating sound devices.
The two women were waiting for wildlife officers to arrive when suddenly a female poacher appeared and started collecting the trapped birds caught on the limesticks and killing some of them in the process. The activists began recording video of the woman’s illegal activities, according to a CABS statement, prompting the poacher to charge towards them aggressively.
“Realising she was being filmed by two team members, the poacher launched a vicious attack, even biting in order to try and take the camera,” CABS said on their Facebook page.
Local tradition makes it difficult to root out perpetrators, who serve illegal "ambelopoulia" delicacies to a wide clientele behind closed doors
A video also showed the bite marks and other injuries sustained by the two female activists, who were later treated at a local hospital.
The perpetrator, who was known to the group for illegal poaching activities last year, fled on foot but was later apprehended by officers who confiscated 70 limesticks and managed to release 12 birds unharmed.
CABS also commented on the €400 fine imposed on the poacher, saying it would not be enough of a deterrent against the illegal lucrative enterprise.
Bird trapping is illegal on the island but it went unnoticed until the Republic of Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004, pitting officials against local poachers who had been breaking the law for generations.
Recent efforts and public campaigns against illegal bird trapping have made a dent into the illegal and very lucrative enterprise, but local customs and traditions also make it difficult to root out perpetrators who serve illegal "ambelopoulia" delicacies to a wide clientele behind closed doors.
A number of incidents involving confrontations were caught on camera and posted on social media over the years, showing the dangers that activists often face on the front lines.