I apologise to my readers who expect to see posts about European amphibians and reptiles on my blog but from time to time I just have to share some other information. The island of Malta is one I know well, my family holidays there every year and I know it is a beautiful island. Yet there is one alarming factor which stops me from going along on holiday there myself. To birders across Europe the illegal killing of migratory birds on this island as well as nearby Gozo is well known. Thankfully a number of organisations, specifically Birdlife Malta are acting to make the European public more aware of this “hobby” in collaboration with local law enforcement officers.
I have always enjoyed the work of Naturalist Chris Packham and find his programmes to be very insightful and angling towards conservation and education without the macho “this could kill me in 10 seconds”, animal wrangling element we are subjected to on many wildlife shows these days. He and his team are trying to bring to light the critical situation on Malta with illegal hunting where anything from Little Bittern, Mediterranean specialist species such as Bee-eaters as well as any raptor, owl, heron, song bird or sea bird are shot simply for fun on Malta and Gozo. Many of these are killed during the Spring migrations heading north so a good number of British resident species will end their days on Malta.
As well as ignoring European legislation, clearly Malta underestimates the potential economic value of having thousands of bird watchers holidaying on a beautiful Mediterranean island which should be full of breeding birds. Whereas many islands in Greece such as Lesvos are gaining a good economic profit from bird watching tourism. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people shooting the odd partridge for dinner but this is simply barbaric. It would appear that the vast majority of Maltese citizens are against this illegal activity, yet it still continues as a common, widespread practice. I hope that one day I will want to visit Malta with my family to see these beautiful islands and their reptile and bird fauna. However, as long as every bird is being shot from the sky this is one tourist who won’t be going there on holiday.
BIRDLIFE MALTA http://www.birdlifemalta.org/
CHRIS PACKHAM http://www.chrispackham.co.uk/