Successes as well on Malta
CABS teams with high profile presence
Our experience on Malta shows that success can also be achieved on the islands - in a relatively short space of time. CABS has only been active on the island since 1999 on the small Mediterranean archipelago but a great deal has already been achieved:
• The monitoring of migrant bird hunting on Malta by CABS and other conservation organisations have led to a decline in poaching. Although each year thousands of protected birds of prey and other large migrant birds fall victim to the hunters, and the problem is still far from solved, massacres on the scale of those carried out in the 1970s are thankfully a thing of the past.
• The formation of the environmental police unit ALE (Administrative Law Enforcement) at the end of the 1990s has finally led to a degree of control over hunting. The unit is far too small and is burdened with a variety of other tasks; but they have gained respect and are a good deal more than the proverbial drop in the ocean. CABS teams work closely and trustingly with the officers of the ALE.
• Fear of prosecution has led to the almost complete disappearance of stuffed birds in living rooms or gruesome accessories such as raptor skulls dangling from car rear view mirrors. At the start of the new century there were still the odd report of such ‘souvenirs’; today little more is heard of them.
• The accession of Malta to the EU in 2004 heralded the end of song bird trapping. Since 31 December 2008 the trapping of finches with clap nets is officially banned. CABS took part in the discussions on accession and helped to ensure that the trapping ban was enforced. Poachers still trap illegally but the extent of trapping is markedly less than before the ban.
• As a result of the campaign against the continuance of spring hunting mounted by CABS and its partner organisation LRPBO, the matter was put under the spotlight and firmly on to the political agenda in Brussels and Malta. In 2008 and 2009 spring hunting on Malta was banned completely and in 2010 a very limited and restrictive season was opened. An end to this out-dated tradition now seems in sight.
• The people of Malta are becoming more and more openly opposed to hunting and poaching. Since 2007 the media report fully on operations by CABS and its partner organisations. The majority of Maltese welcome our efforts for improved bird conservation on their islands.
• During its twice-annual bird protection camps on Malta CABS teams regularly catch numerous poachers red-handed and, in cooperation with the authorities, dismantle and seize trapping nets are release illegally kept live decoy birds. By their high-visibility presence alone in poaching hotspots CABS and its partners on the islands save the lives of several hundred birds of prey every year