Illegal 'limnes' trappers targeted
Each autumn, tens of thousands of migrant songbirds are illegally trapped on the Greek island of Santorini by luring birds to so-called 'limnes' – man-made drinking pools baited with live captive birds.
When migrants land, a concealed poacher tugs on a rope and the birds are trapped in a net. Finches are targeted, including European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis, Greenfinch C. chloris, Linnet C. cannabina, Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs and Serin Serinus serinus.
Females are often fried and served with ouzo, while males are kept as cage birds. The practice is illegal under the European Commission’s Wild Birds Directive.
"There is absolutely no legislation that allows this kind of activity." —George Karris, Hellenic Ornithological Society (HOS, BirdLife in Greece)
Gerakina, a local pressure group estimates there are between 200 and 500 limnes on the island, and an estimated 50 birds are trapped at each every autumn.
On 10 November 2005, using information provided by HOS, rangers from the Forestry Department of Cyclades and game wardens from the regional Hunting Federation found and destroyed “dozens” of limnes, although nobody was arrested during the operation. Vangelis Goudoufas, a forestry official, commented, "When we were there, we were able to show that our position was unyielding, despite all the resistance that we met with. But the fact that we don’t have permanent staff on Santorini is a major disadvantage."
Currently, there are only six forest rangers to cover the 24 inhabited islands of the Cyclades archipelago.