Ambelopoulia - the inglorious tradition of Cyprus

Ambelopoulia - the inglorious tradition of Cyprus

Excessive love of Cypriots for warblers may lead to the extinction of this bird species.

Every autumn, thousands of migratory birds appear in the forests and gardens of the island of Cyprus. And every autumn, thousands of them are caught here for one wild tradition: the preparation of ambelopoulia, a songbird dish that is extremely popular among Cypriots.

To catch birds, poaching methods are used: nets are stretched between trees, or their branches are coated with glue. A bird caught in such a trap is not killed immediately. The unfortunate creature is put in a dark place and fed for days on end, because in the dark the bird eats without stopping, perceiving the situation as pre-winter, which means it needs to stock up on energy for the long journey to the southern countries. However, instead of flying for the winter, the pichuga is waiting for marinade and grilling.

Every year, for the sake of such a wild delicacy, from one and a half to two million migratory birds are killed in Cyprus. Mostly the black-headed warbler (lat. Sylvia atricapilla) is caught here - a bird weighing only 20 grams. The carcass is not gutted; according to tradition, it is supposed to be swallowed whole. Cypriots are willing to pay hundreds of euros for one serving of this delicacy. And no EU laws can stop this barbarity.

This fall was no exception. Again, traditional ambelopoulia is served in restaurants in Larnaca, Paralimni and Famagusta, again hundreds of thousands of warblers have been killed, again mafia groups are enriching themselves from illegal business, earning millions of euros.

Zoo defenders are trying to fight bird catchers by using drones to track illegal hunting sites and transmit information to environmental authorities. But, unfortunately, fines of 200 euros do not stop poachers. In the meantime, the law to increase the penalty to 2,000 euros is being considered by the Cypriot authorities, residents of the island continue to enjoy warblers in traditional taverns.
# Cyprus
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