8 more protected birds killed as massacre continues, total reaches staggering 31

October 7, 2016 2:31 pm

An injured Marsh Harrier (Bagħdan Aħmar) hovering over Buskett a few days ago (Photo by BirdLife Malta)

While the autumn hunting continues without any indication of it being possibly suspended despite the large number of illegalities which had already been reported during the first month of the season, so does the illegal shooting of protected birds which has now reached alarming levels.

Notwithstanding the fact that raptor migration has now started to slow down with birds of prey decreasing, during the past days another eight (8) protected birds were shot down as all kinds of birds – from kestrels and herons to House Martins – continue to bear the brunt of the massacre presently taking place in Malta’s countryside.

This brings the total of known protected birds shot down this autumn season to a staggering thirty-one (31) due to uncontrolled hunting amid a complete absence of law enforcement.

Between yesterday and today, BirdLife Malta Raptor Camp volunteers witnessed the shooting of at least 4 kestrels in just over 24 hours in different parts of the island. These were preceded by separate cases in previous days involving a Grey Heron, another kestrel and two House Martins which were also deliberately shot at and killed.

Here is a chronological list of the illegal hunting episodes which took place since our last press release issued on 25 September which brings up the total of known shot protected birds from 23 to 31:

  • 29 September: Grey Heron (Russett Griż) shot down at Imtaħleb.
  • 29 September: Kestrel (Spanjulett) shot down on the same day.
  • 4 October: Two House Martins (Ħawwiefa) killed at Binġemma Gap.
  • 6 October (morning): Common Kestrel (Spanjulett) shot down at Delimara.
  • 6 October (afternoon): Two Kestrels (Spanjulett) shot down at Imtaħleb.
  • 7 October (this morning): Kestrel (Spanjulett) shot down at Clapham Junction.

Most of these birds were seen being shot down by members of BirdLife Malta’s Raptor Camp which are presently monitoring the illegal hunting during the migration period. All cases were handed over to the police for further investigation and the targeted birds were confirmed shot by a vet.

Apart from these cases which were reported to the police, BirdLife Malta birdwatchers monitoring the migration of birds of prey also observed a large number of injured birds in flight particularly at Buskett. Amongst these in the past few days they observed an injured Osprey (Arpa) hovering over the woodland and also a Marsh Harrier (Bagħdan Aħmar).


Kestrels were the most targeted species during the past days. (Archive photo by Aron Tanti)

As can be observed from the list, the largest number of birds shot in Malta over the past days were kestrels. Incidentally the region of Calabria in Italy reported a large kestrel migration over the past two days.

Commenting on this latest spate of killings which has pushed up the known shot protected species to an embarrassing 31, BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said that it is evident that the lack of action from the authorities has left a negative impact, with more rampant abuse taking place. It is a pity that in view of the rapidly deteriorating situation, Government did not heed BirdLife Malta’s earlier calls for the suspension of the autumn hunting season. All this could have been avoided had the Government shown a strong commitment of zero tolerance to illegal killings.

Read the Maltese version of the press release here.