Malta – 23. 09. 2020
At least six Honey Buzzards killed by poachers around the airport
Poacher caught hunting in Marsaxlokk bird sanctuary
Malta. In the last days irresponsible shooters have killed six protected Honey Buzzards (Kuccarda in Maltese) in the area around the Malta International Airport, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) said today.
On the evening of 20 September members of CABS observed the arrival of around 50 Honey Buzzards coming into roost in Has Saptan valley – which directly borders the airport runway. Despite the strict hunting curfew after 1pm on Sundays and public holidays, as the birds began to settle in trees, 22 shots were fired from five different locations. In addition, in the same area one team filmed a hunter in a hide with a silencer on his shotgun. Police were called and apprehended the man. Two shotguns were confiscated.
The next morning (21 September, public holiday), at the same location, CABS members observed around 20 Honey Buzzards rise and fly south to continue their journey to Africa. But shortly after the birds tried to cross the nearby Wied il-Qoton four were observed being shot down close to the runway edge lights. Again the incident was reported to the police who needed 50 minutes to arrive due to there being only one patrol for the whole island. Despite an intensive search neither the dead buzzards nor the persons who killed them could be found.
On Monday afternoon a CABS team followed a flock of Honey Buzzards until the birds decided to roost in Eucalyptus trees in the Birzebbugia. Despite the afternoon hunting curfew still being in place five shots were heard when the first birds flew low. When the team arrived at the scene a man carrying a shotgun was filmed running off. Video material clearly showing his face and the weapon in his hands has been passed on to the police.
Yesterday morning CABS continued to monitor the roost in Birzebbugia. „As soon as the first buzzards left the roost gunshot fire increased significantly with at least two birds being hit“, CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows reports. A video showing one of the Honey Buzzards falling from the sky has been published on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvl7WLoX-rQ
Today (23 Sept) morning a CABS team also filmed a hunter with his shotgun in the middle of the Il-Ballut ta' Marsaxlokk bird sanctuary where all hunting is strictly prohibited. The man was subsequently apprehended and had his shotgun seized by the police.
In its statement CABS labelled the fields and valleys around the airport as being by far the worst killing grounds for protected birds of prey in Europe. „As our teams can only monitor a small part of this maze of walls and blind spots we are sure that our observations only represent a small fraction of the offences committed“, Mrs. Burrows said. CABS therefore urged the authorities to focus their enforcement efforts and resources to this area. It added however, that at other important raptor roosting sites the situation has significantly improved over the last years. „In the night from Monday to Tuesday more than 120 Marsh Harriers roosted around Buskett Gardens and despite many hunters were out in the morning all birds left unscathed“, CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said.
CABS teams will continue to monitor the situation and document any illegalities during the peak raptor migration, thousands of birds arriving from continental Europe are expected to pass the islands this week.
Contact for more information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, +49 1794803805 or Email to CABS@komitee.de