Every spring and autumn, Malta becomes a vital stepping stone for birds using this migratory route to move between European breeding and African wintering grounds and the islands act as a place to rest and regain fat supplies before continuing on these long and taxing journeys. Due to its strategic location on this key migration route, Malta has a long and impressive species list, totaling 389 species that have been recorded. Of these, over 170 occur with regularity on migration, in many cases in significant numbers. Scientific ringing studies carried out by BirdLife Malta since the 1960s have shown that birds from at least 48 countries use Malta during migration.
Malta also has an exceptionally high density of hunters and per square kilometre has the densest population of hunters in the European Union.
Illegal hunting is a widespread and serious problem, with poachers specifically targeting raptors (birds of prey) and Herons as well as rare migratory birds such as the Greater Flamingo, Black Stork and Eurasian Spoonbill, among others. This persecution reaches its peak during migration periods.
Furthermore, illegal hunting continues throughout the year and it is primarily due to this intense persecution that Malta has the dubious distinction of being the only country in Europe and the Mediterranean with no regularly breeding birds of prey. Species such as the Barn Owl and the Eurasian Jackdaw have become locally extinct with the last breeding pairs known to have been shot by hunters.
Since 2007, BirdLife Malta has been keeping a centralised database on illegal hunting and trapping incidents witnessed by BirdLife Malta staff, ornithologists, volunteers and members of the public known to the organisation. Other reports from unknown individuals and hearsay reports are not included in this database. An analysis of the database is published annually.
The hunting season is now open.
Any illegalities should be reported immediately to the Police on 119, and then to BirdLife Malta on 2134 7644/6 or on emergency (out of office hours) number 7925 5697.
The 2017 autumn hunting season is open from 1 September 2017 to 31 January 2018 (both days included).
If you witness or know about any illegal hunting it is important to first report to the Police, and then to BirdLife Malta.
BirdLife Malta: 2134 7645/6 or on emergency (out of office hours) number 7925 5697.