Thursday, 6 November 2014

Shooting down the cultural ambitions of Syros - by Anna Stamatiou

Malta is an island with an inglorious reputation when it comes to migrating birds.  The Maltese seem to consider it a sign of manhood to go out and try to hit anything that moves when the shooting season opens in the Autumn.  Sadly, the same thing happens on many a Greek island – and no doubt all over the mainland too.  Migrating birds are trapped using very fine nets or perches covered in a sticky substance.  This is illegal but in a country facing financial ruin policing hunting takes a low priority.

This x-ray shows the carcass of a hawk, peppered with lead pellets.  It was found on Syros, along with another, badly decomposed one of an eagle that also showed signs of having been shot.  It does seem particularly strange that on an island that harbours the ambition of becoming European Capital of Culture people are still taking rare birds out of the wild without apparently seeing any contradiction between that behaviour and their cultural aspirations.  How long before the hunters of Syros begin to realise that respect for the natural world must be part of any valid understanding of what we mean when we say that a place or a society is “cultured”

Monday, 3 November 2014

Beach wars - let the dogs swim. By Anna Stamatiou (GAWF Trustee)

The ink is not yet dry on the Articles of Incorporation of one of the newest animal welfare groups to be formed in Greece and already there are sulphurous fumes of controversy and disagreement on the air.  The little island of Kasos – one of the most far flung in Greece, just off the northeast tip of Crete – has distinguished itself in managing to find more than 21 people that are willing to sign up as founder members of a legally constituted not-for- profit body.  (Hooray)! 

A few dedicated people have been struggling to get this done for years and now that they are on the brink of success they find themselves having to deal with an issue that has got local blood boiling.  And it’s all because a letter from the Ministry has been received by the Harbourmaster.  A decision has been made at the highest level and more must follow… dogs are officially to be allowed to swim in the sea!!!  Yes.  And harbourmasters across the land have been told they must produce a list of beaches from which such bathing is to be permitted.  So they have written to their local welfare groups to ask which ones should be included.  And there’s the rub.  No one can agree which those beaches should be.  The poor little group is besieged.  On one side there are those that are delighted and on the other those that have sworn to resist the outrage with every fibre of their being.  What to do? 

No doubt the same scenes are being repeated throughout Greece and I really hope people will not let their emotions cloud their judgement and sense of proportion.  But we are talking about Greeks.   Frankly, there’s no hope.