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Its Enough to Make a Green Maltese Cross!

Save birds migrating through Malta…

Before Malta is entitled to join the European Union its government has to transpose all of the existing European directives into Maltese legislation. The Birds Directive, which governs the protection of birds across the existing 15 members of the EU, was first introduced in 1979. Malta is seeking an exemption to continue the traditional hunting of quail and turtle dove and the trapping of seven species of finch, most of which are also familiar birds in the UK. From material issued to the press by the Maltese government, the RSPB believes that a behind-the-scenes deal between the European Commission and the Maltese government could allow the island`s bird hunters and trappers to continue plundering nine species of bird, which migrate northwards through the island in spring en route to breeding sites in elsewhere in Europe. The birds most at risk include quail and turtledove and seven species of finch, especially goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and linnet.For contacts and who to write to see: http://www.rspb.org.uk/caffairs/malta Background

Locals report? This year migration has started unexpectedly early. We are already having up to 100 birds per day. However, it is already clear the police are not up to the commitment shown during past years. One of yesterday`s (05/09/2002) birdwatchers wrote: Shots at honey buzzards and marsh harriers while these were coming down to roost reminded us of the grim days we thought were past. We had to bend low for the lead not to hit us. Shot after another on already mutilated and butchered birds in all areas around Buskett. From a flock of 27 honey buzzards more than half were killed, and with those add half a dozen lifeless marsh harriers. A truly pathetic situation; luckily the police showed up during the last half hour (at 19:30); just in time to feel the lead falling on their car`s roof. Otherwise no police were in sight all day long. If police presence will not be constant as in the past two years, we will be back to square one in no time.A UK birder who recently returned from the Raptor camp on Malta writes: I have just returned from the 2002 Raptor Camp on Malta, organised by BirdlifeMalta. I could only attend for 1 week this year, and during my stay migration, particularly of broad-winged species, was very slow due to the speed and direction of the wind. However, what I did see proves that the problems on Malta have not improved much, if any, from last year. Birds of Prey are still being slaughtered twice a year on a HUGE scale. I still firmly believe that the best way to tackle this problem is by direct action on Malta and campaigning form home - a boycott of the island by tourists WILL NOT WORK! If the islands were flooded with birdwatchers during migration, as Lesbos is, this would have a much greater affect on illegal hunting. In my experience, if an illegitimate activity is taking place on a site and people carrying out legitimate activities suddenly appear in greater numbers, then those illegitimate users becoming intimidated and often cease their activities - this can be applied to motor-bikers on countryside sites, flashers in parks - whatever. This could work with hunting in Malta, especially if those legitimate people had information on what to do when they witnessed illegal activity. I also firmly believe that it takes a foreign presence to bring the police out into the hunting areas to combat illegal hunting, without the presence of camp participants observing and reporting illegal activity there would be no police enforcement.He continued The second effective measure we can take is to lobby for improved legislation. Malta is potentially on the brink of joining the EU, with a referendum planned for the spring, there is already talk of Malta seeking exemptions to the birds directive, this would have grave consequences, opening the door to countries like France, Italy and Spain to do likewise. There are c15,000 hunters and trappers on Malta, they have a substantial power at the ballot box, hopefully not great enough to prevent Malta joining the EU. . See http://www.rspb.org.uk/caffairs/default.asp for further information.

Please support BirdlifeMalta, they are small, but fantastically committed group of people fighting towards what sometimes seems like an impossible goal - Malta being a safe staging post and breeding area for birds.

4th July 2014