STOP PRESS: The petition will now close at midnight on 2 May

The illegal hunting of birds in Mediterranean countries has again been highlighted in the media recently, with our Vice President Chris Packham experiencing first-hand the situation in Malta.

But Malta isn’t the only place where large-scale illegal hunting takes place.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is responsible for looking after two ‘Sovereign Base Areas’ on Cyprus – at Dhekelia and Akrotiri. These are UK Overseas Territories, but they aren’t fenced-off, razor-wired fortresses – the bases include some villages and the British territory blends into the surrounding countryside.

Illegal bird trappers take advantage of this situation and kill hundreds of thousands of migrant songbirds each year. The trappers plant Australian acacia trees and hide their nets amongst them.

And this is large-scale, organised crime - last year, our partner BirdLife Cyprus estimated that 800,000 birds were killed at Dhekelia in autumn 2016. The birds are sold on the black market to local restaurants - to some they are considered a delicacy.

RSPB supporter Harriet Allen told us she’d been compelled to take action, after hearing Chris discuss the topic on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show. So now, thanks to Harriet, you can express your views by signing a UK Government petition, challenging the MoD to take action against trapping on its land in Cyprus.

There is hope. Our colleagues at BirdLife Cyprus met with the Base Authorities at the beginning of April. The new Base Commander has asked if he can see the worst trapping black-spots for himself and affirmed his commitment to tackling the problem, while a three-year strategy to deal with illegal bird-killing is underway. We look forward to working with the Base Authorities to remove the acacia trees, planted by the trappers to enable them to catch and kill the birds.

Rest assured that we won’t let this issue drop, and we’ll keep going until this industrial-scale slaughter comes to an end.

Sign the petition here