Sea turtle conservationists in Paphos who take part in a nesting protection programme in the region have launched new allegations against locals while also criticizing police.
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According to Philenews, Argaka community leader Spyros Pelopidas and his associates made their presence known on Thursday while conservationists were inspecting a local beach strip that is a nesting spot for sea turtles.
Last week, the team of experts was confronted by locals who asked the conservationists to leave the area and also stop filming their exchange. The experts finally left after being asked to leave by police, who said they did not want the situation to escalate further.
But new reports said locals once again showed up, including men who surrounded an expert who was recording video. The local men at one point, according to Philenews, demanded that he hand over his phone or delete images he had taken earlier. Footage of the exact incident was not immediately available.
Following the latest confrontation, the conservationists pointed out that both locals and the police were responsible over efforts to hinder conservation work on Argaka beach, which included inspecting areas in the sand where wire cages were placed over turtle nests. New nesting spots are also marked accordingly throughout the duration of the programme.
The local leader further accused conservationists of setting up fake wire cages without eggs underneath the sand
According to one complaint shared with reporters, conservationists said a police officer sought to obtain personal information about the team member who was filming, after Pelopidas had asked police to assist him in tracking the expert's information down to file a complaint of violation of privacy.
A few days earlier, locals demanded that a member of the converrsation team stop filming them, with the expert replying that he had the right to record the incident on a public beach.
The attorney general’s office is reportedly looking into the series of incidents in Argaka over the last few weeks. The Argaka beach strip also made headlines in the past over illegal activities, including the placement beds without proper permits.
Conservationists claim that locals are preventing them from carrying out their work on a public beach, while locals say they have a right to prevent the group from carrying out inspections on a beach that is within their local area. Pelopidas further accused the conservationists of setting up fake wire cages without eggs underneath the sand.
Critics pointed out that a number of incidents involving the death of sea turtles should be a wakeup call for Cypriots, who wish to protect nature and the sea creatures that come to the island during springtime to lay their eggs.
Incidents over the years included turtles dying under mysterious circumstances, including one which was beheaded in Lara, according to local media. A recent death of a sea turtle in Limassol remained unsolved and the carcass was buried by state officials.