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Conservationists question authorities' motives over Malta 'bird cemetery'

In a joint Press Conference earlier yesterday the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and Birdlife Malta have questioned the motives behind the lack of investigation into the Mizieb 'bird cemetery', accusing the local authorities of wanting to keep it a secret. They also accused the poachers of shooting for the sheer of joy of killing, as evidenced by the fact that the birds had simply been crudely hidden in the ground.

The number of birds found at the Mizieb graveyard went up yesterday morning to 201.

During the first 12 days of the camp the guards observed 194 shootings and at least 11 birds were shot down. On most of the days during this period migration was very poor but the sudden change of weather brought in birds and also brought out the shooters. Alex Hirschfeld, CABS press officer, said that following the finding of the Mizieb 'cemetery' conservationists expected an investigation by the local authorities, however both the Government and the Malta Police Force have remained silent. He added that there are still many dead birds in Mizieb and called for Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to take immediate action before poachers removed all the evidence.  Axel Hirschfeld added that the situation this year is much worse than the previous year and what was found at Mizieb is one of the worst environmental crimes in Europe.

Max Farrugia from International Animal Rescue in Malta, which works in partnership with CABS, said that so far only about one third of the Mizieb area had been searched. In spite of all the evidence the hunting lobby continues to deny the scale of illegal hunting. Max Farrugia added that, although the ALE police department is doing its best to cope with the situation, the lack of resources means they can't cover all the areas where illegal hunting is taking place. He urged the Commissioner of Police to enlarge the section so that they will be better able to control the situation.