Malta: the worst killing fields for birds of prey in Europe

Malta. The “Committee Against Bird Slaughter” (CABS) has released further video evidence of the indiscriminate killing of protected migratory birds in Has-Saptan valley (Birzebbugia).

The footage published on YouTube shows a European Honey Buzzard and a Blue Roller being shot down in the area on Wednesday and Thursday.

Blue Rollers are a type of international nature conservation problem that is experiencing rapid population decline in large parts of its European range and is extremely endangered.

Blue Roller

“Our teams deployed in the Birzebbugia area observe and report severe wildlife crimes on a daily basis yet the police needed more than an hour to arrive after our team reported the Roller being killed yesterday”, CABS spokesperson Karl Heinz Kreutzer said adding that this delay gives plenty of ample time for the poachers to hide their illegal prey and escape with impunity.

Apart from these two recent incidents, CABS teams have observed more than a dozen other protected birds being shot down in Has Saptan valley since last Sunday (20 Sept).

“As our eyes and video cameras can only monitor a very small part of this valley, we assume that hundreds more protected birds have been shot there in the last week alone”, CABS spokesperson Karl-Heinz Kreutzer said.

CABS which has labeled the valley as “the worst killing fields for birds of prey in Europe” urges the government to take immediate action by suspending the hunting season in this part of the island and establishing a permanent police presence to monitor the ban.

The NGO said that the primary motivation behind the shooting of protected birds is private collections and illegal taxidermy.

Honey Buzzard

“There is a huge black market for stuffed birds with some collectors paying thousands of Euros for rare specimens such as Blue Rollers, Storks or Flamingos. Since examinations and tagging of private trophy collections have dwindled during the past five years, poachers find it easier to shoot and launder illegally acquired specimens”, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows said.

She also stated that since responsibility for the administration of wild birds’ regulations was handed over to the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) controls and tagging of private collections were stopped.

“The history of the WBRU is a history of massive failures and biased decisions which only serve the interests of the poachers at the cost the lives of thousands of rare protected birds. It is high time that the government hands over the responsibility for the protection of wild birds to a technically competent regulatory institution”, Burrows concluded.

Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V.

 

And I mean…At least 50 internationally protected birds died from hunting in Malta in 2019.

In Malta, people shoot pretty much anything that moves in the sky.

Hunting in Malta is pure bird hunting and a popular sport. Allowed in 34 species but exercised on an extremely larger list of birds.

In the case of Malta, the problem is exacerbated because the island is at the heart of the central European migration route. Millions of birds have to go over there – and their killers lurk.

With gigantic trapping facilities of over 5,000 square meters, birds are caught in many places on the island. Gigantic facilities, some of which are several hectares in size, can be found directly on coastal cliffs or on hills in the interior of the island.

An incident reported by “Birdlife” activist Geoffrey Saliba shows how natural hunting is in Malta: “A hunter shot down a marsh harrier – over a schoolyard. Nobody took much notice of it”, he says.

The hunters rarely shoot the birds for pots and pans, but mostly out of pure lust for murder – or to stuff them.
Even legally murdered birds like song thrushes are mostly left to die in the field.

The fact that bird hunting remains possible and legal in the middle of Europe is the surrender of civil society to a criminal elite.

My best regards to all, Venus

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