The Ministry of Defence has been forced into making the admission after thousands of bird lovers signed a Government petition calling for the illegal slaughter on Cyprus by cruel trappers to be stamped out.
Parts of the vitally strategic air base have become “no go zones” for police because of the vicious threats posed by gangsters running the lucrative racket selling the birds as delicacies in local restaurants.
The horrific spectacle of robins, blackcaps and shrikes dangling from glue traps on Ministry of Defence land has caused outrage among conservationists.
Chris Packham highlighted the scandal last autumn when he filmed the poachers at work as well as freeing birds before they were killed and served up as delicacies known as ambelopoulia.
The industrial scale of the slaughter was highlighted earlier this spring when the RSPB revealed as many as 800,000 small migratory birds a year are being killed on Britain’s sovereign base. Each dead bird can sell for up to £5 a head.
Yet tackling the problem will take time, the Ministry of Defence admitted this week as it responded to an e-petition on the Government website.
The Ministry of Defence said in a statement: “We recognise the elimination of bird trapping and change of cultural practices in Cyprus will take some years.”
Later it added: “The UK Government recognises there is little prospect of a swift resolution to the wider problem of bird trapping across Cyprus and any permanent solution will require a significant change in traditional views and activities held by some Cypriot communities.”
Yet the MoD says the British authotities are making “considerable efforts” to prevent bird trapping in the Sovereign Base Area (SBA), explaining how the public have full access to 13,000 acres of land outside the perimeter of the military camp.
It said: “Illegal trapping of birds is a widespread issue across the whole of Cyprus and is not confined to the SBAs.
“The practice of trapping and eating ambelopoulia…