Another threat for Cyprus wildlife is quantified

Within the framework of the Pandoteira project, the Game and Fauna Service together with BirdLife Cyprus, are studying the extent of rodenticide residues in barn owls and other rodent-eating raptors, which are found dead. The sample analysis was carried out by the State General Laboratory.

The results so far are alarming, with a high percentage of samples testing positive to some rodenticide substances. Our numbers show that the use of these substances is widespread and affects protected species throughout Cyprus.

The issue that arises is that the widespread use of rodenticides, for the purpose of rodent control, puts other non-target species at risk. This is so, due to the fact that these species are mainly rodent predators, which feed on poisoned rodents, among others.

The bird species which were tested positive to rodenticide residues were mainly barn owls, which can more easily accumulate these poisonous substances in their body, as they mainly feed on rodents (96% of their diet is rodents based on research carried out in Cyprus). Long-eared Owls, Long-legged Buzzards and Bonelli’s Eagles also had a high percentage of rodenticide residues. The reason is again their diet, consisting mainly of rodents.

In the framework of the Pandoteira project, the Game and Fauna Service in collaboration with BirdLife Cyprus, implement actions for the protection of birds. Through these actions data is collected on the scope and severity of secondary poisoning of raptors by chemicals, such as rodenticides. More specifically, the team collected a large number of dead raptors island wide between 2022 and the beginning of 2023. These raptors were mostly owls (Barn owls and Long-eared Owls). This important sample was examined by a specialised lab of the State General Laboratory.

Read more about our study here.

This action will continue until 2025 with the analysis of new samples collected in 2023 and 2024. Based on the results we will examine which rodenticides are the most toxic to wild birds and we will make recommendations regarding their ban, the reduction of their use, or the application of special conditions of use.

At the same time, we are making efforts to promote the biological control of the population of rodents. This is achieved through the placement of artificial nests for barn owls. We are also working on informing farmers, hunters, communities, pupils and the general public about the benefits of this effort, while simultaneously reducing the use of chemicals, such as rodenticides.

Pandoteira is a 10-year project, which deals with the management of the Natura 2000 network in Cyprus, with the purpose of making the network more effective and functional, as well as sustainable. The project is co-funded by the EU’s LIFE Programme, it is coordinated by the Department of Environment and has 13 other associated beneficiaries from Public Bodies, Universities, NGOs and private companies.

Photo: Antaia Christou (BirdLife Cyprus)


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