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Conservationists condemn shooting of flamingo in Malta

Conservationists have condemned the shooting down of a flamingo at Salina Bay in Malta. The police have since arrested three men in connection with the incident.

The shocking crime has been condemned by the hunters' federation, BirdLife Malta, International Animal Rescue and a number of other groups.

The dead bird has not yet been found. However, eyewitness accounts led the police to an SUV containing bird’s feathers. A number of properties have been searched.

Two eyewitnesses said they heard shooting at about midnight. A young man was then seen splashing in the water and carrying the flamingo from the enclosed area. The flamingo was placed on the ground, an SUV drove up and the bird was put into it. The vehicle was driven away at high speed.

Blood and several flamingo feathers were the only traces which the shooter left behind him at the scene of the crime.

The vehicle was subsequently traced to the village of Burmarrad. The village is less than two kilometres from where the shooting took place. The police found flamingo feathers in the vehicle.

Following a search which was carried out in a private residence the police found the remains of other protected bird species.

When the flamingo landed at the Salina salt pans, which is the ideal habitat for such birds, its arrival was announced by Birdlife and the police were informed and mounted a guard. The bird flew away at about 8.45 pm. The Police Officers remained on the scene but left the site when the bird did not return after about an hour.

Latrer in the night the police were informed that the bird had returned to the original site but it was been shot down before they arrived.

The police interviewed a number of witnesses and the investigations are still being carried out. So far three individuals have been arrested.

In a statement Parliamentary Secretary for Animal Rights Roderick Galdes condemned the "barbaric killing" of the flamingo "without reservation.”

Max Farrugia of International Animal Rescue in Malta was quoted in local newspapers saying that the court must take severe action against this barbaric shooting. Birdlife Malta thanked all those who informed the police and helped them to trace the killers. Later in the day the hunters’ federation (FKNK) said it would immediately suspend the person who allegedly shot at the flamingo if he was a member of the FKNK. It would ban the person for life once a final decision was taken by the courts. The organisation admitted it was time serious action was taken by the courts.