BirdLife Malta is satisfied that the hunter who was witnessed shooting down and killing four Greater Flamingos in October 2021 from Qawra Point has been found guilty. He has been sentenced with a one-year jail term along with the confiscation of his shotgun and a revocation of his hunting licence for life, apart from being permanently disqualified from holding any firearm licence. This means that he will not be able to hunt anymore, and neither will he be allowed to have any firearms in his possession.
Massacre took place in 2021 at Qawra Point
This sentence came about after a birdwatcher had witnessed this massacre and had reported it both to the Malta Police Force and to BirdLife Malta. The events of 2nd October 2021 had led BirdLife Malta to reiterate its call on the Government to designate Qawra Point as a no-hunting zone, with the illegal hunting hotspot being declared a protected nature reserve just a couple of days ago, a year after the incident.
On that day, BirdLife Malta was able to take footage of the person in the sea after he had jumped to retrieve the Flamingo carcasses. This sentence is the result of very well-documented evidence by the birdwatcher himself and the BirdLife Malta official along with the efficient work of the police who arrived on site in a very short time. Efforts by the Armed Forces to retrieve the bird carcasses were also instrumental, along with the well-handled prosecution.
While the culprit is expected to appeal the jail sentence, BirdLife Malta remains satisfied with the outcome which has seen the efforts of volunteer birdwatchers, BirdLife Malta staff, the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) of the Police Force and other assisting authorities such as ERA and AFM, bring a tangible result – a result which should act as a deterrent for such incidents we have come to see frequently as with more recent cases of targeting of Black Kites and another Flamingo on Gozo.
Such a sentence should entice Government to actively seek to resource the above-mentioned entities so that illegalities of the kind are tackled efficiently from the field to the court room. Only then would the deterring effect bring about a change in the current situation with the illegal killing of wild birds.
Such actions would also contrast the inefficacy of hunting organisations at disciplining their members, something which so far remains a lip service for public relations purposes.