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Gruesome find on Dwejra Lines

CABS discover corpses of protected birds

Press release 14.09.2011

Gruesome find on Dwejra Lines - dead Bee-Eaters, Swifts and skeletons of Marsh Harriers lay in the vicinity of hunter’s shooting sitesGruesome find on Dwejra Lines - dead Bee-Eaters, Swifts and skeletons of Marsh Harriers lay in the vicinity of hunter’s shooting sites On the Dwejra Lines (Malta) members of the German-based Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) today discovered the corpses of numerous dead migrant birds shot by poachers. The organisation stated that the find consisted of 6 freshly-shot Bee-eaters, two Swifts, a Sardinian Warbler and the remains of two Marsh Harriers. All four species are strictly protected on Malta. In addition the corpses of seven racing pigeons were found, one of them wearing the ring of a local racing pigeon club.

The birds were at the bottom of defensive ditch, some 5 metres deep, constructed by the British in the 19th Century. In this area hunters had been observed on several occasions in the past few days shooting at protected species. Some of these incidents were also filmed by a CABS patrol. The video material and the dead birds were handed over to the Malta environmental police unit ALE. Criminal proceedings are being initiated. “

According to CABS, some 200 metres of the stretch of the densely overgrown and often almost penetrable ditch was searched. “We believe that many more dead birds can be found in the ditch” says CABS Press officer Axel Hirschfeld. “A search of the rest of the fortifications will only be possible with the help of professional climbing equipment”.

The Committee Against Bird Slaughter has been operating on Malta since 9 September in the framework of their autumn bird protection camp Operation Safe Voyage. CABS council member David Conlin comments: “We deploy six teams to the countryside daily, working as usual closely with the ALE”.

Although autumn bird migration is still far from its peak, the volunteer conservationists have already recorded numerous violations of Maltese Hunting Law and the European bird protection guidelines. These include the shooting at or killing of down of birds of prey, Swallows, Swifts, Bee-Eaters and other small song birds. Other offences registered are the use of electronic decoy devices and weapons capable of firing more than three shots in succession. Illegal hunting has also been observed taking place after 23:00 hrs and on Sunday afternoon.

A full interim report, as well as the video material shot by CABS to date, will be made public in the course of next week.

Latest press reports

Times of Malta: Shot protected birds discovered by CABS
di-ve.com: CABS discovers shot protected birds
Malta Independent: BirdLife Malta hosts largest ever Raptor Camp - CABS discovers carcasses of protected migrant birds

Photographs from Dwejra Lines, Malta- 14.09.2011

The ditch of the historic defence line - Hunters use numerous shooting positions above the defencesThe ditch of the historic defence line - Hunters use numerous shooting positions above the defences

In many sections the ditch is only accessible with the use of abseiling equipmentIn many sections the ditch is only accessible with the use of abseiling equipment

Precarious climbing on the Dwejra LinesPrecarious climbing on the Dwejra Lines

A sad discovery - dead birds lay all around on the floor of the searched section of the ditch - including this Bee-eaterA sad discovery - dead birds lay all around on the floor of the searched section of the ditch - including this Bee-eater

A freshly shot Sardinian Warbler - killed and simply discarded in the ditchA freshly shot Sardinian Warbler - killed and simply discarded in the ditch

The gruesome result of the search: 7 Bee-eaters, 2 Swifts, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 Sardinian Warbler and several dead racing pigeonsThe gruesome result of the search: 7 Bee-eaters, 2 Swifts, 2 Marsh Harriers, 1 Sardinian Warbler and several dead racing pigeons

The finds were identified and recordedThe finds were identified and recorded

Officers of the ALE environmental police unit secure the CABS finds as evidenceOfficers of the ALE environmental police unit secure the CABS finds as evidence