PROACT MAIN | CBF SBA reply | PQ-MEP Chris Davies | Tourism Ministry - Reply | Game Fund - Reply | Interior Ministry - Initial Reply | SBA - Interim Reply 31.01.02 | SBA - Initial Reply | MEP Reply (Diana Wallis UK) | Proact opens its Campaign | Slaughter | Success for SBA Police | Make the Poachers Pay | More Eco-tourists? | Shooting Lessons | EU 'slams' Cyprus | Hunting Statistics | Prosecutions rise | Italian Protest | The British Lion roars | Ambelopoulia | The Salt Lakes | Minister unmasked | Health Hazard! | Well Done ;-) | No Way! | SBAA JUN 2002

Make YOUR opinion felt! Write to the Cyprus Press today at .....

The Cyprus Weekly - Article 25.-31. Jan 2002

Taking ambelopoulia off the menu

by Philippos Stylianou

Under pressure from European and local nature conservationists, Cyprus authorities are stepping up their efforts to stamp out a centuries-old lucrative pastime of capturing, killing and savouring internationally protected migratory birds.

By Philippos Stylianou

Game Authority wardens and policemen have begun confiscating pickled ambelopoulia" - blackcaps - from shop shelves and prosecuting shopkeepers for possessing and trading in a protected species in violation of a 1974 law.

Similar measures are being taken against restaurants and tavernas that serve the prohibited delicacy, while the suppliers who catch and kill the birds in their hundreds using nets and lime sticks have been feeling the brunt of the law for some years now.

Game Authority Director Pantelis Hadjiyeros told The Cyprus Weekly that more than 100 people were prosecuted in the past weeks for various offences concerning ambelopoulia. In the most recent of cases, heavy fines of up to 1,500 were imposed, but so far no one has been jailed although legislation also envisages prison sentences.

Despite the measures taken, the massive slaughter of blackcaps persists owing to the huge economic interests involved and the widespread popularity of the delicacy. The restaurant price usually charged for each tiny bird - served either pickled or boiled in pilaf - can be as high as CYP 2,00.

"We cannot eradicate this deep-rooted practice overnight," said Hadjiyeros. "We need more time, but from now on the Game Authority will not show any tolerance."

He admitted, however, that the campaign so far lacked a general plan of action. He said that one is being worked out and will be submitted for governmental approval before the next ambelopoulia season starts.

Waves of this migratory species mainly arrive at the south-eastern coast of the island in late autumn, only to be entrapped by poachers, who use them as a profitable supplement their income.

The ambelopoulia "harvest" in Cyprus was recorded by mediaeval travellers to the island. It was apparently viewed by the indigenous population as a means of sustenance in those hard times, but it was also encouraged by foreign rulers of the island, who even exported them to their home states, such as Venice and England.

A two member delegation from the Council of Europe, currently in the island to discuss environmental issues, has asked to see the Interior Minister about the measures taken to protect the ambelopoulia.

Copyright Proact 2001-2002