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Police seize 75 protected birds in Malta

Wood Sandpiper (Photo: CABS)The Administrative Law Enforcement police in Malta have seized 75 protected wader and song birds from a greenhouse complex near Bahrija following a tip off. It came from the operations centre of the German group CABS - the Committee Against Bird Slaughter - which IAR is supporting in Malta during the autumn hunting season.

CABS said one of its teams of volunteers yesterday heard unusual bird calls from a greenhouse complex in the area of the former maritime radio station at Wied Rini.The calls were clearly those of a sandpiper, not usually found near greenhouses. Their suspicions were aroused and they called in the ALE.

The police arrived within 15 minutes and searched the complex. They discovered a large aviary which contained almost exclusively protected species, namely 32 Little Stints (Tertuxa), 13 Wood Sandpipers (Swejda Cara), eight Common Sandpipers (Pispisella), five Little Ringed Plovers (Monakella), five Green Sandpipers (Swejda), two White Wagtails (Zakak Adjad), two Yellow Wagtails (Isfar) and one each of Red-throated Pipit (Dizz Ahmar), Dunlin (Pispisella tad-Dabra), Temminck's Stint (Tertuxa Griza) and a Ring Ouzel (Malvzz tas-Sidra). Three other birds died before rescue.

The birds, many of which had had their wings clipped, were subsequently taken away and cared for by specialists. The raid, which continued on into the early evening, resulted in the seizure of the largest collection of living water birds yet discovered in Malta. The black market value of the confiscated birds was assessed by experts to be more than Euro20,000.

After a night in police custody the birds were transported to the Ghadira nature reserve where they were released.

"It was wonderful to see these beautiful rare birds fly free again," said IAR's Max Farrugia who is working with CABS on the ground in Malta. "But it was sad too to think of those birds that died before they were rescued."

The bird protection camp continues in Malta until 28 September to combat illegal hunting in cooperation with the police and local conservationists.

The daily online diary, documenting the activities of the 24 voluntary activists, is at