A rare species of bat caught in a poacher's net in Cyprus (PHOTO)

A rare species of bat was found caught in a bird poacher's net in Cyprus

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A rare species of fruit bat was caught in a bird poacher's net in Cyprus.

According to the Commission Against the Killing of Birds (CABS) its members found last night a bird trapping site with 2 large fog nets and an electronic bird calling device near Vrysoules and reported it to the police officers on duty. Five wild birds, all black-capped, and a specimen of a rare Egyptian fruit bat were found caught in the nets and released safely.

The Egyptian fruit bat is one of the 19 bat species found in Cyprus and the only one that eats fruit. It is a species of immense importance for the natural heritage of Cyprus as Cyprus is the only European country where this rare species of mammal exists. According to Haris Nikolaou, an expert on flora and fauna, fruit bats were once common in Cyprus in the past, but numbers have been declining rapidly over the past 15 years and the population is now estimated to be just 1.100.

According to the CABS website, this Egyptian fruit bat is the latest in a series of rare or endangered wildlife species caught in illegal bird traps by CABS members this autumn in Cyprus. Among 550 wild birds and some other animals, rescued from traps found by CABS activists, are also common pipistrelles – another species of bat – and rare bird species such as the Cyprus Scops owl, Wryneck, Blue-throat, Barred warbler, Great Reed warbler and the Nightingale Thrush.

"As long as illegal bird trapping remains widespread in Cyprus, it will not only affect targeted species such as black-capped warblers, but will also have a significant impact on non-targeted species, many of which are rare and threatened," said CABS Wildlife .