Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Europe's Songbirds Slaughtered for Delicacy


The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has recently reported that some parts of Europe are becoming "slaughterhouses" millions of migrating songbirds. One of the places notorious for its killing of such birds is Cyprus. The Mediterranean island nation is known for a songbird delicacy called ambelopoulia. The dish is illegal in the state as it involves trapping birds like blackcaps and European robins. However, due to poor regulation of laws concerning the bird population, ambelopoulia is served in several Cypriot restaurants.

CABS estimates that up to 10 million are illegally poached each year for this dish. The poachers have been known to sell the birds either to restaurants, or people who deal in such illicit trade. A single bird can be sold for around $3.60. The poachers kill the birds using a wide range of gruesome techniques besides shooting. They put up mist nets which trap the birds in mid-flight, and even use lime-sticks. That is, they take a twig and coat it with a "glue" made from boiling fruits of the Syrian plum-tree. When a bird sits on that twig, it becomes stuck and dies while struggling to free itself. In addition to Cyprus, nations of Italy and Malta have also become hot-beds for illegal bird trapping where the committee has been known to set up bird protection camps in summer and autumn months. The illegal slaughtering came from the time when Cyprus was just beginning to look at animal welfare issue. According to Alexia Zalaf, a researcher from University of Leicester who hopes to improve animal welfare in Cyprus and United Kingdom, the infrastructure in dealing with such topics is still in its early stages.

I'm deeply appalled at the fact that some European nations are becoming infamous for their illegal slaughtering of migratory songbirds. Many of these precious treasures are part of the beauty in Europe's woodlands that evokes various images from fairy-tales that we have heard of. In addition to that, the birds also play a key role in the ecosystems. They keep insect populations in control, and they themselves also constitute to diet of various other European creatures such as wildcats. Also, the traps set up by poachers end up trapping bigger birds such as owls who play a vital role in keeping the prey populations in balance. I feel that Cyprus, which is the core of the illegal activities, is in a great need of help following poor law regulations concerning the songbird population. I hope it will receive a good deal of help, in order to enforce its laws and combat the illegal trapping of birds.

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