Our bird hospital in Malta takes in casualties of rampant shooting
In recent days International Animal Rescue's bird hospital in Malta has taken in several casualties – victims of rampant shooting that had taken place after a change in the weather. An osprey, a fish-eating raptor, was shot at Salina bird sanctuary, a kestrel was found by a British couple and brought over to IAR and a marsh harrier was brought to the hospital by the police.
The osprey was wearing a numbered metal ring, identifying it as a bird from the German northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. It had been ringed as a chick as part of a conservation project at a specialised centre. The bird suffered a broken wing after it was shot, while eating a fish it had just caught at the Salina salt pans which form a bird sanctuary. Two men were arrested by the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit of the police which is responsible for wildlife protection.The osprey was treated by local vets before being sent for rehabilitation at the Kirchwald Bird of Prey Rehab Centre near Koblenz. Most of the ospreys seen on migration in Malta come from Sweden, Finland and Germany, and fly over the Maltese islands on their way to Africa, where they spend the winter. The bird was moved quickly to Germany thanks to the efforts made by the Malta Police, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, the Government vet, Air Malta and CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) in Germany. International Animal Rescue Malta is the partner group in Malta during CABS' annual birdcamps. The autumn camp came to an end only a fortnight ago. The case was reported by a bird watcher from Birdlife Malta and the police were immediately on site. They managed to find the bird amongst the vegetation in the area on the edge of the water. This osprey was shot in a bird sanctuary, in broad daylight, next to a main road and surrounded by residential areas, minutes after it arrived. The Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) condemned the shooting and said such incidents could not be tolerated. They added that if the persons arrested in connection with this act were convicted by a law court, their FKNK membership would be cancelled.
During the same day at least two other protected species were shot. A kestrel was brought to IAR by Mr and Mrs Monica Lee, a British couple who found the injured bird whilst enjoying a walk in the countryside just before sunset. The bird was found at Bingemma next to the Victoria Military lines in the north of Malta. Mr Lee said that this find had ruined their walk. Whilst thanking IAR for the good work they are doing, he said that he had never encountered such a shocking situation before. The third bird was a marsh harrier which the ALE police found abandoned in the countryside whilst on patrol.
During his recent visit to Brussels for the first international conference organised by EU commissioner for Health John Dalli and the Belgian Presidency, IAR Malta Chairman Max Farrugia met with Mr Yvews Lecocq, general secretary of FACE, the European Hunting Federation and discussed the Malta bird situation. He made it clear that he was not happy with the situation in Malta and said that, although during recent years the situation had improved, there is still a lot to do.