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Press release 20.09.2010

Malta: Another ‘Bird Cemetery‘ discovered


Hunters attack CABS members and destroy evidence

This Marsh Harrier had been shot very recently and was concealed under stonesThis Marsh Harrier had been shot very recently and was concealed under stonesValletta. In the course of a large scale search by CABS and BirdLife Malta in the game reserve managed by the Maltese hunting association FKNK on 20 September, the corpses and remains of over 80 illegally shot migrant birds were discovered. The search, conducted by more than 40 volunteers from the two organisations, found the remains of protected species including numerous Marsh Harriers, Honey Buzzards, Falcons, Bee-Eaters, Hoopoes and Nightjars. CABS biologist Axel Hirschfeld, who coordinated the operation, is appalled: “From a species conservation point of view, this find is an absolute catastrophe. The birds that we found are endangered in almost all EU states and considerable efforts are made to protect them”. Exactly one year ago the skeletons and corpses of more than 220 birds of prey, herons and other protected species were found in adjacent woodland.

CABS also announced that a 26 year old woman member from England was attacked by hunters. The men attempted to take a bag from her containing evidence in the form of dead birds but she resisted them. One of the men crushed a falcon skull that she had just found under his heel. The police called by CABS to the scene were able to apprehend both offenders and criminal proceedings have been initiated.

A sad reality in Mizieb - skeleton of a bird of preyA sad reality in Mizieb - skeleton of a bird of prey Shortly afterwards a senior official from the FKNK arrived at the search scene and, during a discussion (in which he shouted and use abusive language) struck the CABS team leader in the face. The man has already been charged and has appeared in court. The incident was filmed by a team from Bavarian Television and their material was shown in court as evidence, in support of statements made by 5 witnesses. The case has been adjourned until two defence witnesses, none of whom were at the scene, give their evidence.

The Maltese media reported extensively on the ‘Bird Cemetery’ and the two assaults. A comprehensive report of the incident can be found on the website of the Times of Malta

The CABS operation involves 24 of its members who, in cooperation with Maltese conservationists, have the aim of combating the killing and trapping of protected migrant birds. Since the start of the operation -‘Safe Passage’ - at least 68 illegal poaching incidents have been recorded and several shootings of protected birds of prey have been captured live on video - see Youtube

More than 40 CABS and BirdLife volunteers took part in the search of the Mizieb woodlandMore than 40 CABS and BirdLife volunteers took part in the search of the Mizieb woodlandIn addition to the killing of these protected species CABS teams have reported numerous cases of illegal trapping on the island. A large number of protected bird species, including larks, pipits and Dotterel have been seized by the police. Videos of these operations are also available on the Times of Malta homepage