For Martin

Martin Abbas Hellicar - Photo by Silvio Augusto Rusmigo

By Michaelangelo Pontikis


A knock on the frame of his open door.

Behind his desk, and framed by the imposing bookcase on the back wall, Martin’s glasses reflect the image of his computer screen. His intense concentration is apparent in his puzzled frown as he takes a tiny moment to complete his thought.

With a passing glance and a smile, he responds.

“Ela re!”

Anyone who had the chance to spend time with Martin outdoors, will be acquainted with his esoteric familiarity with nature. In observing him, one could notice his reverence for it all; and the humility with which he guided inexperienced birdwatchers betrayed his equal admiration of all birds on their own right.

From humble beginnings, Martin was once the only employee at BirdLife Cyprus. Through the past 20 years, he saw this organization into the successful environmental NGO that we know it as today, employing 16 extraordinary individuals and running impactful projects to protect our natural environment.

Among their countless actions, BirdLife Cyprus combats illegal bird trapping, promotes sustainable agriculture using Barn Owls as pest control, protects natural areas like Akamas, Paralimni Lake, Mia Milia Sewage Treatment Plant, and Akrotiri Peninsula, engage children and youth through priceless educational activities that will mark their relationship with Nature for the rest of their life, and even reach into the water by addressing fishing bycatch.

Life with Vultures, which Martin made a point to call their flagship project, is much more than an effort to save the species from local extinction. Through national and international collaborations, they are making Cyprus safer for humans and wildlife alike by removing illegal poison baits from the countryside and engaging through every project with policy and legal protection for our voiceless neighbors.

Each month, many volunteers flood to the island’s wetlands to monitor the bird populations. In addition, during breeding season, much of the island is walked by experienced volunteers, oftentimes traveling from abroad, to participate in this vital data collection practice. Martin’s interactions with these volunteers, no doubt inspired and motivated them to continually dedicate their time for this important cause. It would be remise not to mention Oroklini Lake in particular, which he personally took the time every month to visit and monitor.

At work, his striking humor seldom went unnoticed. His respect for others and nature afforded him in return the crowds uninterrupted attention, and his tactful and rich vocabulary lend extra meaning to his every sentence. If his work kept him glued to his desk during someone’s visit, he always took the time to bid them farewell as they passed his office’s open window, ensuring their presence felt acknowledged and welcomed.

We are very proud to be supporting such an impactful and dedicated team as BirdLife Cyprus. With his leadership, their long-fought achievements are nothing short of inspirational.

It’s rare that one meets a person as inspiring and devoted to his mission as Martin. Let the poignant recollection of his legacy sip into the Cypriot soils and heal the Nature he so admired. He will always be among us.

Our greatest condolences, thoughts and love are with his Family, Friends and Colleagues.


Support Martin’s Mission

Martin believed that we are stronger together and that Birdlife Cyprus’ mission is much more impactful when more people support it. You can become a member of Birdlife Cyprus today and help increase the reach and strength of our collective voice in protecting the Cyprus we love.