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Conservationists warn flamingos vulnerable lead poisoning in Cyprus salt lake

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Flamingo feeding in Larnaca Salt Lake in Cyprus
Flamingo feeding in Larnaca Salt Lake in Cyprus   -   Copyright  Euronews
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Conservationists in Cyprus have warned that flamingos could suffer lead poisoning due to continued hunting near a salt lake.

There used to be a clay pigeon shooting range on the edge of the Lanarca salt lake near Nicosia but the range was closed down after several flamingos died in 2003.

Yet there is still a hunting ground near parts of the coastal wetland and conservationists say that nearby lead levels remain elevated and are continuing to impact wildlife.

The Lanarca salt lake is a "fantastic wetland" that is important for flamingos migrating from Turkey in the winter months, according to Martin Hellicar, the director of BirdLife Cyprus.

"The salt lakes are also really important for a huge number of other species," Hellicar said.

There used to be a "horrific level of contamination" at the lake but now it's when the water levels are high and flamingos feed in the area that it's a problem.

"[The flamingos] take in the lead unfortunately with disastrous consequences," he said.

Hellicar is calling for the hunting area to be closed if the practice cannot be controlled to prevent lead poisoning of wildlife.

Last last year, the European Parliament voted to ban the use of lead gunshot in wetlands.

The European Chemicals Agency has said that an estimated 100,000 tonnes of lead is dispersed into the EU environment from sports shooting, hunting and fishing activities.

Watch the full Euronews report in the video player above.