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257 offences in two weeks

CABS Bird Guards Malta operation is extended

Shot Golden Oriole on MaltaShot Golden Oriole on MaltaThe Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has announced on the 29th September that its Bird Guard operations against illegal bird hunting on Malta have been extended. “As a result of the massive scale of birds shot in the past two weeks part of the group have volunteered to stay on and have taken extra unpaid leave from their jobs” the CABS president Heinz Schwarze explains.

In the past weeks 24 CABS activists have registered 257 offences against hunting regulations, including 45 directly observed shooting down/injuring and 97 attempted shooting of protected birds, 30 offences involving the use of illegal electronic lures, 83 breaches of the afternoon hunting curfew (see Annex) and 2 offences related to illegal trapping.

The huge numbers of bird of prey shootings is alarming in the utmost. Each of our 6 teams was only able to intensively monitor an area of some 2 square kilometres daily. The shooting down of birds outside these areas, or hidden from our sight behind trees, bushes, rocks and buildings, could not be recorded. We therefore believe that in the weeks, despite our presence, thousands of protected migrant species have been killed on Malta” says Schwarze. “Every attempt to play down these alarming figures is simply glossing over the seriousness of the matter. The majority of the Maltese public is quite aware that illegal hunting is a widespread problem that must be combated to a far greater extent than is the case to date.” Among the shot down birds recorded by the conservationists are numerous endangered species such as Marsh Harriers, Eleonora’s Falcon, Honey Buzzards, waders and Black Storks. The situation is especially critical for the highly endangered Lesser Spotted Eagle, 8 of which (amounting to 5 % of the German population) have used Malta as a stepping stone to Africa in the past 10 days. “Each bird will be monitored as closely as the situation permits - and if necessary we will put on a close protection team over night” promised CABS Operations Officer David Conlin.

Provisional analysis of bird crime related incidents 5 - 28 September 2008

(Based on CABS online diary entries, control room operational records, team debriefings and reports from members of the public to CABS)

  1. Protected birds shot down or injured: 45 (see details in Para 5 below)
  2. Failed attemps to shoot at protected birds (actually witnessed - not the number of shots fired, this is considerably higher): 97
  3. Shots heard after 15:00 hrs curfew (13:00 Sundays/holidays): 83 (in comparison - in one week in autumn 2007 there were 65 shots recorded by CABS teams after curfew)
  4. 32 other offences relating to trapping or hunting:
    1. 1 seizure of 75 protected wader and song bird species by police after CABS` tippoff. Bahrija, 16.09.
    2. 1 Illegal trapping net, live quail-decoys, Birzebugga, 24.09.
    3. 30 electronic bird lures (on different dates and locations). Map will be provided to ALE soon.
  5. Details of bird shootings:
    1. 9 Birds of prey, shot dead within 20 min., Birzebugga, 05.09. (Source: members of public) Kestrel shot by huntersKestrel shot by hunters
    2. 2 Kestrels, dead, Ghain Znuber, 13.09. (Source: CABS)
    3. 2 (at least) Barn Swallows, dead, near Manikata, 13.09. (Source: CABS)
    4. 1 Night Heron, lost from sight after being hit in Buskett, 16.09. (Source: CABS)
    5. 1 Marsh Harrier, shot but flew on, Mizieb, 16.09. (Source: CABS)
    6. 1 Ringed Plover, dead, Victoria Lines, 16.09. (Source: CABS)
    7. 1 Marsh Harrier, delivered with gunshot wound to IAR, Mgarr, 17.09. (Source: IAR)
    8. 1 Kestrel, dead, Blue Grotto, 19.09. (Source: CABS)
    9. 1 Marsh Harrier, shot but flew on, Blue Grotto, 19.09. (Source: CABS)
    10. Honey Buzzard, shot and fell to ground, Buskett, 19.09. (Source: CABS)
    11. Marsh Harriers, dead, Rabat, 19.09. (Source: CABS)
    12. Honey Buzzard, delivered with gunshot wound to IAR, Buskett, 19.09. (Source: IAR)
    13. Marsh Harriers, dead, Mizieb, 20.09. (Source: CABS)
    14. Marsh Harriers, dead, Rabat, 20.09 (flock of 30 arrived in the evening and next morning only 10 birds left the roost - 17 birds missing believed killed). (Source: CABS)
    15. Honey Buzzard, delivered with gunshot wound to IAR, Buskett, 20.09. (Source: IAR)
    16. Roller, shot but flew on, Laferla Cross, 21.09. (Source: CABS)
    17. Falcon ssp., dead, Birzebugga, 21.09. (Source: CABS)
    18. Sandpiper ssp., dead, Mistra Bay, 22.09. (Source: CABS)
    19. Falcon ssp., flew injured into private property and could not be recovered by ALE, Dingli, 22.09. (Source: CABS)
    20. Black Stork, dead, Mgarr, 22.09. (Source: CABS)
    21. Black Stork, dead, Mizieb, 24.09. (Source: CABS)
    22. Black Storks, dead, Mdina + Zebugg, 24.09. (Source: CABS)
    23. Marsh Harrier, flew injured into trees and could not be recovered by ALE, Girgenti, 25.09. (Source: CABS)
    24. Lesser Kestrels, 1 Eleonara`s Falcon, shot down, Ghar Lapsi, 25.09. (Source: CABS)
    25. Marsh Harrier, dead, Luqa Airport, 28.09. (Source: CABS)


Goldfinch trapped in a net: since 2008 trapping of finches is prohibited on MaltaGoldfinch trapped in a net: since 2008 trapping of finches is prohibited on MaltaAt any one time CABS had a maximum of 6 operational teams deployed, each of which could reasonably cover well an area of 1-2 km². Birds shot down, injured or being chased at outside this area cannot be included in confirmed figures as they were either too distant, behind walls, on private property or were obscured by buildings or scrub. This amounts to some 10 km² operational area per period. Malta covers an area of 316 km², 60 % of which is used or suitable for hunting - say 200 km² in total. Teams were on operations on average for at least 10 hours a day.

CABS monitored intensively only some 5% of this area at any one time and recorded a total of 257 violations of bird protection and hunting regulations. A mathematical projection gives therefore a number of birds shot illegally across the whole area well into 4 figures.

Compared to the data collected by CABS in autumn 2007 the numbers of illegal electronic bird lures and shots heard after the afternonn curfew decreased significantly.

Our data do not include informations gathered during the Birdlife (BLM) raptor camp or by the Maltese authorities. We are convinced that our presence (as well as the presence of the A.L.E. and other birdwatchers from BLM Raptor camp) deterred numerous hunters from shooting at protected species and thus many birds were saved during the period we were on Malta.

Readers of this report can draw their own conclusions about the number of birds shot and killed or injured during the whole autumn migration period.

You can download our "Provisional analysis of bird crime related incidents 5 - 28 September 2008" as a PDFhere:

CABS_Malta_Camp_9_08_statistics.pdf53.44 KB