The southwestern part of Larnaca’s famous Salt Lake (known as Lake Soros) is one of the few wetlands in Cyprus that hunting is permitted, and the area is polluted with lead pellets.
Conservationist group BirdLife Cyprus coordinated a sampling survey to assess the concentration of lead in the sediment at the location in Meneou.
“The results, published in a report already sent to the Interior Minister, confirm our worst fears,” said BirdLife.
The sediment analysis showed high lead concentrations in the areas of the lake closest to where hunting is permitted.
“Considering there are no other likely sources of lead in the area, the report concludes that hunting is the source of lead pollution.
It should be stressed that lead is a highly toxic metal; exposure to even low concentrations can negatively influence biological processes, affecting both humans and wildlife.”
It is estimated that one million water birds die each year from lead poisoning throughout the EU.
In January and February 2020, more than 100 flamingos were found dead at another section of the Larnaka Salt Lake.
An analysis carried out by the Veterinary Services showed that 85 of the birds died due to lead poisoning.
“The findings clearly suggest hunters that use this area do not comply with the national legislation that prohibits the use of lead shot within a 300-metre radius around wetlands and dams.
“Although we don’t know why some hunters fail to comply with the law, possible reasons for it could be the lack of sufficient law enforcement, lack of awareness or indifference of the hunters,” said BirdLife.
Lake Soros is also a well-known illegal hunting blackspot for migratory birds.
Last September, BirdLife Cyprus reported the illegal shooting of dozens of bee-eaters and other protected bird species at the site.
Despite this being reported, the illegal killing of migratory birds continued throughout last autumn.
“The lead analysis results and the illegal bird killing incidents show that hunting at Lake Soros is a serious problem.”
BirdLife Cyprus has called upon the Interior Minister and the Game Service to prohibit hunting activity in the area.
“We hope that our plea will be heard, based on what we believe are indisputable reasons: the dangerously high levels of lead, the regular illegal killing of migratory birds, and public safety due.”