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As bird migration gathers pace across the Mediterranean, BirdLife Malta has voiced its anger at the despicable actions of illegal hunters who are shooting protected birds right in front of international and Maltese birdwatchers who are participating in BirdLife Malta’s Raptor Camp.
A pale-phase juvenile Honey buzzard was recovered by police from Wied iz-Zurrieq at sea on Thursday. The internal gunshot injuries were so severe that the bird had to be put down. This morning BirdLife received another shot Honey buzzard with gun shot injuries while ALE officers collected a third shot Honey Buzzard from Laferla Cross where a Raptor Camp team was present.
In addition, this afternoon four poachers in a boat in the Gozo channel have been seen shooting at a party of Little Egrets. The sea hunting season is currently closed and will open in October.
The increasing number of incidents coincides with the half-way point of BirdLife Malta’s Raptor Camp, which started on Saturday. The aim of the initiative is to have teams of birdwatchers monitoring key sites to assess the numbers of birds passing through the island and to work with the authorities to clamp down on illegal hunting.
Tolga Temuge, the Executive Director of BirdLife Malta, said: “Typically, some Maltese hunters continue to display a disregard of the law and protected wildlife by opting to gun down protected species. The hunting lobby’s denial of the scale of illegal hunting is clearly encouraging illegal hunters. Those who claim to be law abiding hunters are also guilty if they do not report the illegal shooting of protected species that they witness.”
BirdLife Malta expressed its suspicion that the illegal killing of protected birds will rise rapidly over the next few days as the numbers of birds passing through increases. The conservation organization called on the government to double the fines for repeat offenders and cancel the licenses temporarily.
Photo on right – Pale Morph juvenile Honey Buzzard handed over to BirdLife Malta by the A.L.E. on the 18th September 2008. The bird was examined by an independent vet on the same day and put down after it started vomiting blood. This species is protected under LN 79 of 2006 Annex 1. Photo by BirdLife Malta
Photo on left – Juvenile Honey Buzzard given to BirdLife Malta by a member of the public on the 19th September 2008. The bird has a minimum of 4 entry wounds from shotgun pellets. This species is protected under LN 79 of 2006 Annex 1. Photo by BirdLife Malta