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Migrant bird protection camps on Malta

"Our presence alone saves thousands of birds' lives"

CABS member with a shot KestrelCABS member with a shot KestrelIn order to take practical measures to stop the illegal shooting of migrant birds on Malta, we have run migrant bird protection camps on the Maltese islands every spring since 2001 and, since 2007, every autumn as well. The participants, mostly CABS members from Germany, Italy, Malta and the United Kingdom, and increasingly from other EU states and countries as far flung as the USA, are divided into groups and positioned at hunting and poaching ‘hot spots’ at dawn and dusk. These teams of activists, equipped with binoculars, mobile phones and video cameras, observe the hunters’ activities and document all infringements of Maltese environmental legislation. As soon as a culprit can be identified, the Maltese environmental police unit ALE are alarmed, and they are usually on the spot very quickly. Before their arrival the CABS observers collect evidence, film the poachers and, if necessary, shadow them to their vehicles or properties. If the CABS teams are spotted poaching usually stops anyway. Many hunters, for fear of being caught, break off hunting completely and go home.

During daylight hours, CABS members run controls of pet shops and bird markets, map trapping installations, and schedule meetings with the authorities and partner organisations

CABS volunteer with confiscated decoy birdsCABS volunteer with confiscated decoy birdsDuring the hours of darkness groups comb outlying areas for illegal electronic lures. These cassette recorders are used primarily to lure Quails migrating by night to the areas in front of the shooting hides, where they are shot at when day breaks. The devices are mostly concealed in concrete bunkers or buried oil drums with the loudspeakers at the end of long cables in the scrub. The locations of the decoys are registered by GPS and details are given to the authorities. Some are then dismantled and destroyed together with the police.

The operations are not without risk for the volunteers. The reaction by hunters and poachers to the work of our teams is shown openly. Mostly their anger is expressed in verbal abuse or slit car tyres. In spring 2010 however violence against conservationists escalated and there were brutal attacks by masked men resulting in damage to rental cars and injury to CABS volunteers. You can read more here and also here.

Our operations on Malta are funded from donations collected mainly in Germany. If you would like to support out international nature and wildlife work we are always grateful for a donation to assist us with our international nature and wildlife protection work..

The Pro Biodiversity Foundation (aka SPA) helps regularly and generously with the funding of our bird protection camps on Malta. In 2012 the deployment of to CABS teams to Malta’s small sister island Gozo was substantially financed by the foundation.

Our final Malta report for autumn 2010 can be downloaded here:

CABS final report Malta autumn 2010.pdf279.99 KB