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International camp against illegal hunting

German NGO sends 22 activists to Malta

Valetta. The Committee against Bird Slaughter (CABS) is to organise a bird protection camp on the islands of Malta and Gozo during mid-September 2007. This camp will include 22 experienced campaigners from Germany, Italy and the UK with the aim of collecting data on the bird migration over the islands and, the influence of illegal hunting on different bird species. The organisation and implementation of this camp will be made in close consensus and cooperation with Nature Trust (Malta) and the Maltese Section of International Animal Rescue. The principal aim of the operation is, the deterrence of potential law-breakers by a round-the clock presence of the teams in the main hunting ‘hotspots’, and on those stretches of coast important for bird migration. The task of the campaign teams on the ground will be that of precise recording of the migration of selected bird species. This will also incorporate the reporting by telephone of instances of illegal hunting to the operational base. In emergency cases, the operational base will contact the police and provide them with all relevant and necessary information.

“We are only present to observe, record and report; everything else is a matter for the police” the spokesperson for CABS, Heinz Schwarze, explains. CABS further state that the Maltese police have been notified of the operation earlier this year and have signalled their ‘full support’ to the team. The NGO emphasises that the volunteer observers will operate in the open and, with their video cameras and binoculars, will be easily recognisable for the hunters.

Schwarze stresses that “deterrence through an open and wide-scale presence is more important to us than concealed observation”.

Nevertheless, according to CABS, the occasional use of concealed cameras in the bird protection operation cannot be completely ruled out. CABS further stresses that similar operations in the Gulf of Naples and in Lombardy have provided them with plenty of useful experience in this field. Schwarze: “Those who are afraid of being filmed, and are later taken to court, don’t shoot at protected birds”. This maxim, adopted and put into practice over the past 10 years in Italy by the permanent presence of bird protection teams and game wardens, has proved successful in reducing the scale of illegal hunting there to a noticeable extent. All of the participants in the Malta camp are volunteers, the majority of them are field biologists, bird ringers or professional conservationists. A daily summary of events will be available through an internet blog in English and German at http://www.komitee.de. About us – Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V. (The Committee against Bird Slaughter – CABS)

The Komitee gegen den Vogelmord e.V. is a European-wide active organisation with its head office in Germany. Founded in 1975, the organisation now has some 11,000 members and sponsors in almost all European states. The main effort of the organisation is directed towards the protection of wild birds from human persecution, especially by animal trade and hunting of migrant birds. CABS played a fundamental role, through its operations and campaigns, in bringing to an end the till then widespread trapping of birds in Belgium at the end of the 1980s. Since the mid-1980s, the Committee has operated annual bird protection camps in Italy in cooperation with the forest police and WWF rangers to locate and confiscate illegal bird traps and nets, with more than 200 volunteers taking part each year. On Malta, the organisation has conducted regular operations in spring since 2003, in which small groups have documented instances of illegal hunting and, together with the police, enabled the detection and removal of illegal decoy calling birds.

In 2001, together with its Maltese partner International Animal Rescue, CABS provided the A.L.E. with a powerful outboard motor for better monitoring of hunting at sea. In a joint Royal Belgian Society for the Protection of Birds (LRBPO)/CABS campaign in 2005, more than 220.000 signatures against spring hunting on Malta were collected and presented to The European Parliament in the form of a petition. Together with Nature Trust Malta, CABS has committed itself to the completion of the wildlife rehabilitation centre Xrobb L-Ghagin on the Delimara Peninsula, for which CABS has contributed more than 10,000 Euros towards the setting up the centre and covering its running costs.

4th July 2014