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IAR takes part in bird protection camp in Malta

As in previous years, in mid-September IAR will take part in the monitoring of illegal birdshooting in Malta and the recording of bird migration data. Operations are once again being led by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) which is sending 24 'Bird Guards' to a bird protection camp on the island. Their mission is to record numbers of migrating birds and to report breaches of hunting regulations to the Maltese police headquarters.

The two groups have welcomed the Maltese government’s decision to ban hunting after 1500 hrs over the period of the camp from 15 to 30 September. This important ruling led to a marked decrease in the amount of illegal bird shooting last year. It is hoped that the presence of the bird guards on the ground, equipped with video cameras and high quality optics, will further reduce the shooting of protected species such as honey buzzards, harriers and falcons.

The CABS team members will be clearly distinguishable from casual tourists by their jackets and T-shirts with ‘CABS Bird Guard’ printed in bold yellow letters on the back. In addition to their monitoring and recording operations by day, additional patrols will be mounted at night to locate illegal quail and turtle dove electronic decoy devices. Last year more than 300 devices, including cables, car batteries, timers and loudspeakers were located and reported to the Maltese police.

The operation will be financed exclusively by donations from German foundations and individuals. The participants are ornithologists from Germany, Hawaii (USA), Italy, Poland and the UK. They include conservationists from the German federal state of Brandenburg who are working to protect the small surviving population of lesser spotted eagles there. Its plight was highlighted by the shooting down of the young eagle Sigmar over Malta last autumn. The bird was initially cared for by Max Farrugia at IAR's bird hospital before being flown back to Germany by Air Malta. Sadly, in spite of intensive care and several operations the young eagle subsequently died of his injuries.

Alan Knight, CEO of IAR, says: “It is a tragedy to lose a single rare bird to illegal shooting. IAR is delighted to be collaborating with CABS once again and we’re certain the camp will send another strong message out to illegal shooters that their criminal activity will not be tolerated and will not go undetected.”

A daily operational blog with photos and information from the bird camp will be online from 14 September at