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Illegal shooting is rampant in Malta

A sudden change in the weather in Malta, creating perfect conditions for bird migration, has resulted in an outbreak of shooting. From the early hours before dawn on Wednesday 28 April shots were heard and reported to both the police and the control room of CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter). Action was immediately taken and most of the CABS teams converged on the area. In spite of a large police presence and a high number of conservationists, hunters on the Delimara Peninsula fired more than 300 shots at Turtle Doves and raptors.

The sound of so many shots in a relatively short period means that a considerable number of poachers were present. The CABS teams did their best to cover the whole peninsula although they concentrated mainly on il-Munxar. It is in the middle of this peninsula that the Malta Government, with the help of local Non Government Organisations, is planning to create a large nature reserve.

Members from the CABS teams documented the illegal shooting on video, including the shooting at a Hobby and a Montagu's Harrier. The shooters were clearly aware that they were under observation and concealed themselves behind walls and small clumps of trees. They had look-out posts with numerous mobile phones and walkie-talkies, and from these posts they passed on the position of the bird protection teams and the police patrols to the poachers in the valley. One of the bird guards, Leonardo Petrelli from Catania in Sicily, said that what he had witnessed was nothing other than organised crime.

In addition to the CABS teams, an ALE police patrol as well as a mobile team from the district police witnessed the excesses in Delimara. Police sources said that during the morning patrols they managed to catch two poachers. A third poacher was also caught red-handed hunting with a shotgun and in possession of hundreds of cartridges in the Hal Far area near Malta International Airport.