Malta: Released video shows migrating white storks shot out of the sky.

The flock of White Storks which was decimated by Maltese hunters. Picture by Mark Sultana
A flock of white storks was decimated by hunters yesterday, with up to three white stork reported shot. The shooting has taken place in the closed season and only days after the Muscat administration announced that it would open a spring hunting season. The application of the derogation is being contested by Birdlife Malta, accusing the government of basing its arguments on phoney figures provided by local hunters.

Poachers have killed at least 2 White Storks near Salina yesterday afternoon. The birds belonged to a flock of 13 storks which has been monitored by CABS and Birdlife since its arrival on Saturday. When the birds tried to land on the slopes of Maghtab at around 4 pm, a series of gunshots were fired at the flock. A CABS team patrolling the area managed to record the shooting on video. “The footage shows two birds being hit and literally falling down from the sky”, outlines CABS president Heinz Schwarze.

The birdwatchers alerted the police, who searched the area but were unable to find either the dead storks nor the men who killed them. After the incident only 10 storks were observed flying towards Buskett, indicating that a third bird was killed out of sight of the surveillance team. A copy of the video has been handed over to the A.L.E. today and was also uploaded on Youtube.

Since Friday reports made by the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) have also led to police investigations against 4 bird trappers near Dingli, Manikata and Gharghur, where the police seized three clap nets and five live finches. In the town of San Gwann, CABS reported a massive trapping site to the police, whereupon they confiscated two 10-metre long mist nets, two cage traps and a newly-caught robin.

“The fact that a single CABS team is able to expose 6 serious environmental crimes within 48 hours proves that the situation is still far away from being satisfactory” Schwarze said. CABS accused the government of downplaying the poaching problem and wasting tax payers money by retaining an ineffective enforcement system.

In a press release, the government yesterday said that the police conducted 7,619 field inspections and spot checks which gave rise to the disclosure of only 85 trapping-related offences and 73 hunting-related offences last autumn. “If one considers that a large part of these offences could be disclosed only because CABS or Birdlife alerted the police and provided the necessary evidence, this data is rather a declaration of bankruptcy than proof of improvement”, CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said. According to the lines “quality rather than quantity” CABS repeated its call on the government to establish a dedicated wildlife crime unit within the ALE.

The White Stork is a protected species and is considered to be a unique bird associated with good fortune. The White Stork massacre comes after a similar incident last September which saw the killing of numerous eagles.

Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes has come under criticism for paying lip service to enforcement and being close to the hunting lobby.  He has also been accused of surrounding himself with hunters. One of his consultants is Bertu Pace, a hunter and an ex-Labour candidate.

5 comments to Malta: Released video shows migrating white storks shot out of the sky.

  • Why are the Maltese allowed to continue persecuting birds?I was made to believe that through the RSPB,our Government had through negotiations with the Maltese Government put a ban on persecuting birds.Obviously not!

  • John Robson

    I often wonder why people who carry guns and kill animals are called hunters??

    Editor’s Comment. John what an interesting question, out of interest what would you call such people?

  • David Le Mesurier

    When the EU are always enforcing silly laws on things why is Brussels not acting on this as Malta is part of the EU and it has laws to protect birds.

    Should Brussels not be fining the Malta government for these breaches ?

  • Mike Cross

    Disgusting that a developed country allows it’s citizens to behave like this in the 21st century. Boycott Malta at all costs. Personally I would like to see the George Cross withdrawn from them as a sign of the anger that the people of these islands have for their barbaric behaviour

  • Ian Chadwick

    This fiasco seems to stumble on from year to year, with countries like Malta failing to implement laws for the protection of migrating birds. One sure way to punish them is to fine the government of the island for its persistent defiance of European laws and I mean a whopping fine that will make the government react. The other way is to make it known to every tourist what happens on this island and that by not going there will really help the situation.

    To me it is unbelievable how they get away with it. These people need to know that the age of the lime stick, mist net and gun are over for migrating birds and perhaps a few years in a Maltese prison may help change their minds, because at the end of the day I can not think of anything else that will stop these Neanderthals from their disgusting habits.

    Editor’s Comment. Ian they get away with it in the same way the shooters are able to carry on killing our own protected raptors, so where is the difference? Nothing is done here, so why should it be any difference in Malta?