The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) is urging the government to immediately suspend the hunting season in the valleys and fields in the south of Malta, and to establish a permanent police force to monitor the ban following daily evidence of “the indiscriminate killing of protected migratory birds” in the area.
The call came after the environmental organisation witnessed the indiscriminate killing of protected migratory birds in Has-Saptan valley (Birżebbuġa). The NGO recorded “over a dozen” protected birds shot down since Saturday 20 September in the area.
“As our eyes and video cameras can only monitor a very small part of this valley, we assume that hundreds more protected birds have been shot there in the last week alone,” spokesperson Karl-Heinz Kreutzer said in a statement by the organisation on Friday.
CABS consequently labelled the area as “the worst killing grounds for birds of prey in Europe”.
The footage sent by the organisation on Friday shows a European Honey Buzzard and a Roller being shot down in the area on Wednesday and Thursday. Rollers are a species of international conservation concern facing rapid population declines across much of its European range, CABS said.
The organisation said the primary motivation behind the shooting of protected birds are private collections and illegal taxidermy. There is a large black market for stuffed birds, with some collectors paying thousands of euros for rare specimens such as Rollers, Storks or Flamingos, according to CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows.
Burrows went on to slam the Wild Birds Regulation Unit (WBRU) that has “stopped” the controls and tagging of private collections.
“The history of the WBRU is a history of massive failures and biased decisions which only serve the interests of the poachers at the cost the lives of thousands of rare protected birds. It is high time that the government hands over the responsibility for the protection of wild birds to a technically competent regulatory institution,” Burrows added.
The footage published on Friday comes only two days after the NGO published further evidence of similar incidents.
CABS noted that “irresponsible shooters” killed six protected Honey Buzzards in that region over the past few days.
The organisation urged the authorities to focus their enforcement efforts and resources on the southern region, saying its members will continue to monitor the situation for illegalities during the peak raptor migration when thousands of birds arriving from Europe are expected to pass over Malta throughout the week.