Hunting was and still is very much part of the culture of Cyprus people, ask any Cypriot and there is sure to be a hunter somewhere within the family. Figures do fluctuate from year to year but there are around 45,000 officially licensed hunters in Cyprus.
The Cyprus Government lays down strict rules with regards to what wildlife can be hunted, where the hunting can take place, what species are protected and when it can all take place.
For example, the Paphos State Forest area is a no hunting zone as well as Game Reserves across the island. Migratory corridors are also designated as no hunting areas during the bird migratory passage across Cyprus.
Hunters that are found not to be abiding by the rules set by the Government are subject to high fines. Around 750,000 birds are shot illegally each year. The blackcap bird is specifically targeted illegally and is sold on as a delicacy known in Cyprus as ambelopoulia.
The trapping methods can sometimes be non-selective and many protected migratory birds have been caught in traps.
Traditional trapping methods is the use of lime sticks placed on trees and in bushes but also mist nets are used to lure the birds by recordings of birdsong.
Cyprus law bans all non-selective methods of trapping birds and killing of non-game birds.
Currently, the Cyprus Government charges €60 a year for a hunting license and uses these funds to improve the countryside and raise conservational awareness.
The hunting open season is designated as follows:-
The end of August 3-4 hunting days are held inland of the island and during this time only woodpigeon and turtle dove can be hunted.
September has very limited hunting areas in the Cyprus coastal regions where woodpigeon, turtle dove and quail can be hunted.
During November and December, hunting can take place on Wednesdays and Sundays only during which time hare, chukar partridge, black francolin, thrushes, woodpigeon and woodcock can be hunted.
During January and February, hunting can take place on Wednesdays and Sundays only and thrushes, woodpigeon, woodcock, ducks and geese can be hunted.
There is a limit on quotas that a hunter is allowed to take. Hunters exceeding the quotas will be subject to heavy fines. At the time of writing, quotas are two hares and five partridges per hunter per hunting day, or two hares, four partridges and one francolin per hunter per hunting day.