In a feature article in its July issue, National Geographic magazine highlighted the blight of illegal hunting in Malta and other parts of the Mediterranean. In an article entitled “Last Song for Migrating Bird”, the renowned magazine writes, “Songbird trapping is still widespread in parts of Spain; Maltese hunters, frustrated by a lack of native quarry, blast migrating raptors out of the sky; Cypriots harvest warblers on an industrial scale and consume them by the plateful, in defiance of the law.”
Jonathan Franzen, the author of the article, also observes, “European bird-advocacy groups expend significant money and manpower on Malta and in other European hot spots for migratory bird killing, but the problem in Egypt, which is more severe than anywhere in Europe, is largely overlooked.”
In an accompanying piece on the magazine’s website, “What Can You Do to Help Stop the Songbird Slaughter?”, the magazine recommends joining BirdLife Malta and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter – both bête noir for the Maltese hunting community.
“Illegal hunting and trapping is rampant in Italy, Cyprus, and Malta,” the piece says. “BirdLife’s affiliates in those countries – BirdLife Cyprus, BirdLife Malta, and LIPU in Italy – effectively combat poaching through the legal system and public education.”
On CABS, it adds, “CABS rescues birds and destroys traps in aggressive anti-poaching operations in Italy, Cyprus, Malta, Spain, and France.” It also publishes a number of photographs of CABS volunteers rescuing injured birds
Last week, a coalition made up of 11 organisations – Alternattiva Demokratika, Birdlife Malta, Coalition for Animal Rights, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Moviment Graffiti, Greenhouse Malta, Nature Trust (Malta) and the Ramblers Association of Malta – was established in favour of the abolition of spring hunting. The coalition will be applying pressure on the Maltese government to remove the legislation that allows spring hunting to take place.
It is also collecting signatures for a petition calling for a referendum on spring hunting in Malta, an exercise that would require some 35,000 signatures to force a referendum. There is also an online petition pn the internet calling for such a referendum.
Its objective is to ensure that spring hunting is brought to an end in Malta as soon as possible by triggering an abrogative referendum.
The coalition is also working across the European Union to bring pressure on the European Commission to enforce the Birds’ Directive properly and ban spring hunting in Malta.
In June, European Commissioner for the Environment, Janez Potočnik, ordered an inquiry to be held on Malta’s spring hunting derogation. The coalition points out that spring hunting in particular is very harmful to bird stocks.
“The birds flying over Malta are heading to northern Europe to breed. Killing birds in springtime means that they will not be able to breed and this affects their overall population,” a spokesperson for the coalition said.[source: www.independent.com.mt & http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com]