During the past 12 months, the Greater Flamingos at BirdLife Malta’s Għadira Nature Reserve were amongst the most popular birds enjoyed by the thousands of school children, families and tourists that visited the reserve. Up till last Sunday, when we held our annual open day to celebrate the reopening of the reserves after the summer break as from this weekend, the public flocked to Għadira to see the ten flamingos presently at the nature reserve.
The uniqueness of these birds complemented by their elegance left many amazed with their beauty, especially after the public began to understand the way they feed and get their pink colour, whilst also learning about their migration. All these added to the appreciation of nature’s beauty.
Yesterday, however, one flamingo was shot while another disappeared when a flock of three flew out of the reserve. A few minutes later only two returned with one clearly displaying a gunshot injury to its neck. In a year to be labelled as the worst year for the illegal hunting of protected birds in the past six years (see table below), this incident just proves the sad reality that illegal hunting in Malta and Gozo is rampant.
BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana stated that it is disheartening to know that people who are being given the privilege to go out in the countryside with loaded shotguns for their enjoyment can yet be disrespectful towards society.
We are aware that many hunters would deplore this incident and also the many illegal hunting going on, yet it is time for the hunting lobby to get rid of these people once and for all. BirdLife Malta will continue working with all stakeholders including the Police, the Government and the hunting lobby itself to reach this aim, whilst calling on the Government to set up a Wildlife Crime Unit to seriously focus solely on wildlife crime.
Read the Maltese version of the press release here.