Malta – the end of the road
Slaughter in the Mediterranean skies
The central location of the Maltese archipelago makes it an important stepping stone for bird migration between Europe and Africa. Above all, when climatic conditions are unfavourable, numerous migrant birds make a stopover on the islands, only some 360 square kilometres in area. The fly-in of large flocks of birds to roosts on Malta and Gozo is a spectacular natural phenomenon that every year delights large numbers of birdwatchers
After a long flight over the Mediterranean Lesser Spotted Eagles, Honey Buzzards, Montagu’s Harriers and several heron species make a stopover here to recover and to prepare themselves for their onward flight. This also applies to many song bird species such as Golden Orioles, Nightjars, Swifts and Swallows and thrush many finches. Sadly, the illegal shooting of protected species and bird trapping are still widespread practices. Although Malta is now an EU member state thousands of Honey Buzzards, harriers, eagles, Golden Orioles and other migrant birds are shot annually on passage. The illegal hunting hot spots are the night roosts at which, despite a strict ban, poachers again and again massacre bird flocks at roost or on departure.
The Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit of the Maltese Police is responsible for implementation of the bird protection laws. Although the great majority of Maltese reject and condemn illegal hunting, effective control by the police is still lacking. The ALE has not been reinforced for years and at best no more than ten officers per shift are available to control more than 15,000 hunters and trappers. In order to assist and support the police in their work, and to collate migration data, CABS organises annual bird protection camps on Malta with international participation. In addition we conduct education programmes and protest campaigns on improved bird conservation and protection on Malta. Together with our local partner organisations - above all BirdLife Malta and International Animal Rescue - we campaign for a shorter hunting season and an end once and for all to spring hunting on the islands.
You can download two interesting reports about our work on Malta here (at present in German only):