Malta – 21. 04. 2020
Sharp increase in poaching as turtle dove migration kicks in
Two poachers apprehended in Selmun – Another filmed killing turtle doves in bird sanctuary
Malta. Yesterday morning a team of the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) observed and documented three severe cases of illegal turtle dove hunting, the organisation said. Officers of the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) were alerted and managed to catch two hunters near Selmun, one of them with a freshly killed dove hidden in his clothing. The two men – together with a minor and another hunter - had been previously filmed by CABS while they fired numerous shots at turtle doves and collecting at least one dead bird. Both men are expected to be charged with hunting a protected species. Video footage which clearly shows the group aiming at, killing and collecting turtle doves will be submitted as evidence for the case.
Extracts of the video have been published on Youtube and can be watched here: https://youtu.be/FesfAkaB4l4
Directly before the incident in Mellieha the birdwatchers went to nearby Xemxija where members of the public reported shots coming from within the boundaries of the Simar Bird Sanctuary. “We scanned the trees with a scope and finally found a hunter hiding behind a bush and shooting at passing turtle doves, within the protected zone where no hunting is allowed”, said CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows, who was in charge of the operation. The police were alerted and the responding officers were shown the position of the poacher on Google Earth. “Soon after the officers entered the reserve to grab the man he was tipped off, packed his stuff including several dead birds, and ran off”, Burrows reported. It is not known if the police have identified the poacher in the meantime. Just like in the first case CABS has passed on all video evidence to the police. “Killing protected birds within a bird sanctuary is a very severe offence. We expect the police and WBRU to do their utmost to identify the culprit so he can face trial”, Mrs. Burrows said.
CABS said that yesterday afternoon its volunteers searched a part of the Mizieb woodland, which is - according to signs set up in the area - managed by the hunter´s federation FKNK. Amongst numerous fresh cartridges an injured turtle dove with typical gunshot injuries was retrieved and later passed on to Birdlife Malta.
Apart from these three cases CABS teams have also witnessed attempts to shoot down turtle doves in Dwejra, San Martin and Wardija. “The birds were shot at and shot down. There has been a sharp increase in the number of shots fired in the last days, with hundreds heard yesterday and the day before. This comes at the same time when we see the first huge wave of turtle doves arriving here”, CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said adding that the species is strictly protected in spring.
Contact for more information: CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld, +49 1794803805 or Email to CABS@komitee.de