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Police seize 75 rare birds

Severe blow against illegal bird trapping on Malta

Following a hot tip from the CABS’ operations centre, officers of the A.L.E. seized 75 protected wader and song bird species in a coordinated evening swoop near Bahrija yesterday.

Short-toed Lark kept in cage by the trapperShort-toed Lark kept in cage by the trapperDuring a routine vehicle patrol in the late afternoon, a CABS team heard unusual bird calls from a greenhouse complex in the area of the former maritime radio station (Wied Rini). CABS’ press officer Axel Hirschfeld explained: “The call was clearly that of a sandpiper species - which is not usually found near greenhouses. Our suspicions were aroused and we called in the A.L.E.

The police patrol arrived promptly 15 minutes later and began a search of the greenhouse complex. They soon discovered a large aviary which contained almost exclusively protected species. Altogether 32 Little Stints (Tertuxa), 13 Wood Sandpipers (Swejda Cara), 8 Common Sandpipers (Pispisella), 5 Little Ringed Plovers (Monakella), 5 Green Sandpipers (Swejda), 2 White Wagtails (Zakak Adjad), 2 Yellow Wagtails (Isfar) and one each of Red-throated Pipit (Dizz Ahmar), Dunlin (Pispisella tad-Dabra), Temminck’s Stint (Tertuxa Griza) and a Ring Ouzel (Malvzz tas-Sidra). Three other birds died before release. The birds, many of which had had their wings clipped, were subsequently cared for by MEPA specialists and taken away. The raid, which continued on into the early evening, resulted in the seizure of the largest collection of living water birds yet discovered on Malta. The black market value of the confiscated birds is assessed by experts to be more than 20,000 euros.

Caged Green Sandpiper: it died before being releasedCaged Green Sandpiper: it died before being releasedAfter a night in police custody the the birds were transported at 9.30 am this morning to the Il Ghadira nature reserve in the north of Malta where they were released. “It was great to see these maltreated creatures regain their freedom” says Axel Hirschfeld. The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) will remain on Malta until 28 September in order - in cooperation with the police and local conservationists - to combat illegal hunting and trapping. The daily online diary, documenting the activities of the 24 voluntary activists, is at Photos and videos of the release of the birds seized near Bahrija will also be published online in the next few days.