By Serpil Kadilar…….

You may hear gunshots ringing out in the TRNC today- don’t panic- it’s not war. Unless of course, you happen to be a small, defenceless creature like a rabbit, hare or bird of some sort.

It’s a well known fact that the population of several breeds of rabbits and some birds have drastically depleted on the island, and yet, every year, we see yet another ‘hunting season’.

Rabbits are already terribly depleted on the island

Hunting was once a necessity for families who lived in a sustained state of poverty. Often, the hunt would provide the only rare source of meat to eat.

But now, in 2017, is this really sensible?

The vast fields and mountains, which were once home to colonies of rabbit and hare are now a rarity. Pheasants, which were once a magnificent sight in the skies are barely ever visible.

One must ask, what exactly is this ‘hunting season’ in aid of?

Gone are the days where families would look to father or husband with pleading eyes, hungry and desperate for him to bring home something that would be warm and nutritious and although there are many families in Cyprus who struggle financially, it’s certainly a far cry from the malnutrition which has plagued Cypriots several times in their history.

Pheasants were once a common sight, now rarely ever seen

In fact, when was the last time you went to a restaurant and saw rabbit on the menu? When was the last time you were planning meals for the week, and thought to yourself ‘I really fancy a bit of Pheasant…’? When was the last time you saw these meats at the butcher section of Lemar?

Rather, today, what we have are groups of ridiculous men, dressed up in camouflage, looking like a life-sized Action Man Doll, chests puffed up with outdated chauvinism and misplaced pride.

Anybody who loves their country would surely agree that it’s far more kind, and far more sensible to preserve the natural beauty, that is wild life, and encourage the growth of the Eco- System, which ultimately sustains the health and very lives of the human population. One does not need university education to understand the travesty of driving a species of your country into extinction.  Although this notion may seem far fetched, it’s not an impossible one, as Cyprus is well and truly on the fast track of causing the extinction of some of its wildlife hosted upon the island.

Perhaps one day, the hunting season can be replaced with an Eco season. Where men, women and children can come together as a community, clean up the natural spots on the island, and in place of mess, plant herbs, vegetation, trees and bushes which will feed, shelter, and perhaps, recover the wildlife which we are guilty of destroying. Surely, the sense of community spirit and the satisfaction that will come with bearing witness to the fruits of their labour, as seeds blossom into flowers, twigs turn into trees and wildlife returns, at the hands of those who may work to fix this, would be a real reason to feel proud? As opposed to the misplaced pride people feel when hanging small, dead animals from their belts, as though it’s a trophy of masculinity. Really?  Could there be anything more pathetic??

Maintaining tradition and culture is, without  doubt, an essential part of maintaining ethnic identity but sometimes, on rare occasions and matters such as these, some traditions need to be altered or reinvented entirely – lest we lose an enormous part of the beauty of this county, if it’s not already too late.