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The Politics of Food: Cypriot Songbird Massacre

We travel to Cyprus to learn more about why the largest massacre of songbirds anywhere in the world is happening on British sovereign territory – and why poachers won't stop.

by Ben Ferguson
13 January 2015, 4:31pm

We recently traveled to Cyprus to learn more about why the largest massacre of songbirds anywhere in the world is happening on British sovereign territory. Dhekelia, one of two areas on the island retained by the British after Cypriot independence, became the host of industrial-scale bird trapping after Cyprus joined the European Union in 2004. Local authorities were forced to bring the country in line with European laws, but criminals seeking to profit from the illegal trade continue to supply the country's restaurants from the sovereign base area.

We met agonized locals who are dismayed that their tradition of trapping birds has been outlawed, and then—to see both sides of the story—joined up with a team of European activists who document the scale of trapping and disrupt the poachers' traps at night.

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