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PRESS RELEASE - 21 March 2019

Weak enforcement lets poachers keep trapping protected birds

14 cases reported to the police, new video shows worst abuses Malta.

Yesterday morning six men were observed by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) while they were illegally trapping birds on a 1-km square coastal strip west of Imtahleb. According to CABS the men were operating five large clap net installations equipped with live decoys and electronic calling machines to attract protected finch pecies. The police were called and needed around 45 Minutes to arrive with one patrol car. When they saw the officers the poachers hastily collected their equipment and fled towards the parking lot at Migra A-Ferha where they were expected and filmed by another CABS team.

Cages with protected Linnets seized by the police in Dingli, march 2019Cages with protected Linnets seized by the police in Dingli, march 2019„As the first police patrol was still busy with dismantling the abandoned nets, we called the police HQ again and asked them to send a second unit which arrived within 15 minutes and arrested two poachers before they could drive away. A third trapper tried to drive off with his car but was stopped and arrested after a short chase“, CABS Operations Officer Lloyd Scott said. While these three men are expected to be summoned to court in due course and two other suspects managed to escape. The sixth trapper was finally spotted on the road leading down to Migra A-Ferha but was able to leave the scene without facing question. „We have provided the police with video evidence which clearly shows the trapper´s face and his illegal activity and we expect the authorities to utilise all their resources to subsequently identify him“, Masi said.

While yesterday´s operation in Imtahleb marks the biggest sting of the CABS campaign against illegal bird trapping so far this spring; it is just one of many incidents exposed by the NGO. „In the last 12 days our teams have reported a total of 14 cases of illegal bird trapping which involved at least 20 individuals leading to the confiscation of 10 sets of clap nets and dozens of live protected birds.

„Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of trappers could not be arrested as they ran off after seeing the police or being tipped off by one of the many watchmen working for them“, Lloyd Scott said. He added that that illegal trapping is at an all time-high for spring with more than 200 freshly cleared trapping sites being counted on Malta and Gozo during a single aerial survey. The highest density of active sites can be found along the western coast of Malta and the headlands of western Gozo. „Though the authorites are well aware that these areas are poaching hotspots they seem to do hardly anything proactive to bring the situation under control. This is unacceptable and seeing the massive scale of abuse one could get the impression that this wildlife crime is being actively tolerated“, Scott continued.

To counterbalance the ineffective enforcement CABS will continue with its field investigations until mid-April. A video documenting some of the worst abuses has been uploaded on Youtube and can be watched here.

Contact for more information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, +356-79396659 or Email to CABS@komitee.de