In late March, birders competing in the second Champions of the Flyway race raised more than $52,000 to combat the illegal killing of birds on Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean. Now we’ve learned that the proceeds from this year’s Birdfair, the annual three-day festival in the UK, will also be used to protect the Mediterranean’s birds.
Said to be the world’s largest nature celebration, Birdfair attracts more than 20,000 people to the 1,000-acre Rutland Water Nature Reserve, about 80 miles northwest of London. This year, it will take place August 21-23.
The event has raised record amounts for conservation the last two years: £270,000 (about $418,000) in 2013 for BirdLife International’s Prairies to Pampas program and £280,000 (about $433,000) in 2014 to improve protections for marine areas around Europe, Africa, Antarctica, and elsewhere.
Tim Appleton, Birdfair co-founder and organizer, says the funds donated this year will be used to “raise awareness of the problem, make sure the law is enforced, and work with responsible hunters” in the region.
“Illegal killing of threatened wildlife is widespread in the eastern Mediterranean,” he says, “including Cyprus and the Middle East, and we believe this is a major threat to many birds, including Blackcap, Common Chaffinch, Turtle Dove, and White Stork. It has to stop before it’s too late for many vulnerable species.”
The trapping crisis occurs throughout the Mediterranean but is especially acute on Cyprus. More than 2 million birds were killed on the island in autumn 2014 alone, and over a full year, an estimated 2.5 million birds died after being lured by recorded birdsong and trapped in mist nests and on sticky lime sticks. BirdLife Cypress says that since 2002, 152 species have been trapped, including 78 threatened species.
In addition to fundraising, Birdfair will feature several of the UK’s finest wildlife artists, who will be portraying their paintings of Blackcap, Common Chaffinch, and other species of the eastern Mediterranean threatened by trapping.
Read our blog post about the Champions of the Flyway race. Plus, watch for a recap and photo gallery from the race in our forthcoming August issue and a bonus gallery in our digital editions.