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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

Grim discovery of 'bird graves' in Malta

The bodies of 76 protected birds have been found hidden under rocks and rubbish in a woodland in Malta which is treated as a hunting reserve.

The discovery was made during a joint operation by volunteers from the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) and from the Raptor Camp run by BirdLife Malta.

On the same day International Animal Rescue's bird hospital in Malta took in an injured kestrel which died later from its multiple fractures. Another two birds were taken in by BirdLife Malta.

Volunteers searching the area found several freshly killed protected birds including 19 Marsh Harriers, 10 Falcons, a Hoopoe, 12 Night Herons, 9 Golden Orioles, a Honey-buzzard, a Hobby and a Nightingale. The remains were also found of other protected species that had clearly been killed and stashed in hiding places dotted around the area over the past few weeks and months.

CABS officials called the police Administrative Law Enforcement unit while continuing to search the area for more evidence. The ALE arrived at around 12.30 pm. and started collecting the bodies and the remains of the dead protected birds.

"What we have been witnessing over the last two days, together with today's shocking finding in Mizieb, is a sad reflection of the true scale of illegal hunting in Malta," said Axel Hirschfeld, CABS press officer. "What we have uncovered is only the tip of the iceberg, as the scope and range of our teams is limited and we can therefore only cover a small geographical area of the Maltese islands."

CABS and their partners in Malta will be giving a press conference in the next few days to provide a detailed report of the illegal activities which they have witnessed during this year's camp. They will also be releasing footage.

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter has been campaigning for a moratorium on the hunting of Turtle Dove and Quail because of their weak conservation status in the EU. However the group made it clear that their priority in Malta is to combat the ongoing illegal killing of protected species and not a ban on the autumn hunting of these two species.

Max Farrugia of International Animal Rescue stated that government sources are giving the impression that illegal hunting is under control, but this is simply not true. It is about time the Malta Government and the EU started taking the conservation problem more seriously and made it a political priority in Europe.

Recently reports from CABS have shown how serious the trapping and hunting problem is in Cyprus too. Campaigners are calling for the EU to change its position on this issue and not just sit back and continue to say that this is a conflict between the European hunters and the European conservationists.

Max Farrugia concluded his report by saying that it is time for the EU Commissioner to be changed because he has done nothing during his term of office to solve this European problem, which persists not only in Malta and Cyprus but also in other countries including Greece, his country of origin, where hunting is still rampant.