Bird guard operation in Malta is extended
The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has extended its bird guard operations against illegal bird hunting in Malta. “As a result of the massive number of birds shot in the past two weeks some of the group have volunteered to stay on and have taken extra unpaid leave from their jobs” the CABS president Heinz Schwarze explains. International Animal Rescue in Malta will continue to participate in the camp until the last member of CABS leaves the Island.
In the past weeks 24 CABS observers have registered 257 offences against hunting regulations, including 45 directly observed shooting down/injuring and 97 attempted shootings of protected birds, 30 offences involving the use of illegal electronic lures, 83 breaches of the afternoon hunting curfew and two offences related to illegal trapping.
"The huge number of shootings of birds of prey is alarming in the extreme. Each of our six teams was only able to intensively monitor an area of some 2 sq kms daily. The shooting down of birds outside these areas, or hidden from our sight behind trees, bushes, rocks and buildings, could not be recorded. We therefore believe that in spite of our presence, during the weeks thousands of protected migrant species have been killed on Malta” says Schwarze. “Every attempt to play down these alarming figures is simply glossing over the seriousness of the matter. The majority of the Maltese public is quite aware that illegal hunting is a widespread problem that must be combated to a far greater extent than is the case to date."
The CABS activity against illegal hunting has been greatly appreciated in Malta. This can be seen from the large number of comments which the Maltese public made following news items in the local newspapers. CABS members wearing the camp T-shirts were also congratulated in the streets, supermarkets and even by tourists lodging at their hotel and in the countryside.
Among the birds recorded by the conservationists as having been shot down are numerous endangered species such as marsh harriers, Eleonora’s falcon, honey buzzards, waders and black storks. The situation is particularly critical for the highly endangered lesser spotted eagle, eight of which (amounting to 5 % of the German population) have used Malta as a stepping stone to Africa in the past ten days. “Each bird will be monitored as closely as the situation permits - and if necessary we will put on a close protection team overnight” promised CABS Operations Officer David Conlin.
On two different occasions when a considerable number of birds of prey made a stopover in Malta overnight members of the group spent the nights out in the woods to make sure that no illegal hunting took place with the use of special lights.
At the moment special attention is being paid to two lesser spotted eagles which, according to the monitors that have been installed, are heading towards Malta. CABS bird guards, members from other groups and the Administrative Law Enforcement police department have been alerted to this situation.