Flamingo deaths at Larnaca Salt Lake have so far reached 57, while two more deaths have been recorded at Akrotiri Salt Lake in Limassol, with results from tests on dead flamingos confirming lead poisoning as the primary cause of death.
According to the environmental NGO, Birdlife Cyprus, on Tuesday, “the preliminary evaluation by the authorities regarding the cause of the flamingo deaths has unfortunately been confirmed.”
“In all dead flamingos that have been examined in recent days, pellets were found in their stomachs, while deadly levels of lead were also identified in their livers,” Birdlife Cyprus said.
Cyprus was rattled last month when shocking images of some 20 dead flamingos at Aliki salt lake in Larnaca went viral, with officials indicating that their death was possibly due to poisoning from lead, believed to have originated from a nearby abandoned shooting range.
The Animal Party resounded the alarm last week, when it said that more flamingos were spotted in a near-dead condition at Larnaca Salt Lake, unable to move or fly.
On Tuesday, reports citing official figures from the Game and Fauna service claimed that deaths island-wide had reached 59. The two dead flamingos spotted in Limassol are believed to have travelled from Larnaca while still able to, before dying in the Limassol salty waters.
The news comes against a backdrop of an unsettling silence on the part of the relevant state services, which have yet to announce any plans to take measures to curb the flamingo deaths and to provide care for the ill flamingos which could still be saved.
Lead is known to cause slow and painful death when consumed by birds, often taking up to tortuous 15 days for the lead to fully kill the bird.
A clearance of the mud of the salt lake from pellets that came from the nearby shooting range was conducted in 2003, the same year the range closed its doors, though it appears that for pellets to be found in the stomachs of dead flamingos 17 years later, the clearance that was conducted was far from thorough.
According to Birdlife Cyprus, “The presence of lead in the Salt Lake years after the closure of the shooting range and the cleaning of the area demonstrates - in a tragic way this time - the urgent need to manage the area by not only permanently removing the lead from the wetland, but also by tackling the persistent problems that degrade the area, such as the presence of sewage, the large number of stray cats and the general nuisance.”