Malta: After referendum, BirdLife launches nationwide membership drive

BirdLife Malta president Geoffrey Saliba asked those who still wanted to see a hunting-free spring to make their voices heard by joining the organisation as members.

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A Blue Rock Thrush, Malta’s national bird
Precisely one week after the spring hunting referendum, which saw 124,214 Maltese citizens vote for the abolition of the season, BirdLife Malta has launched a nationwide membership drive, exhorting those who had voted against spring hunting to join.

BirdLife Malta president Geoffrey Saliba asked those who still wanted to see a hunting-free spring to make their voices heard by joining the organisation as members. The conservation group encouraged those who had voted against the opening of the season to “seize the moment and not waste the momentum created by the referendum” by strengthening their support for the group.

Last week saw the pro-hunting camp succeed in keeping the spring season open, after scraping through the referendum by a mere 2,200 votes. Soon after the result was announced, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat warned the hunting community that he would not hesitate to close the season if illegalities were flagrant.

In the week since the season opened, two hunters have been prosecuted for killing protected species.

Saliba focused on the positive outcomes of the referendum, however. “BirdLife is greatly encouraged by the large number of people who supported the No vote,” he said, adding that the conservation group was even more determined to halt illegal hunting and ensure that lawbreakers are caught and made to face justice.

Saliba announced that leaflets will be distributed to the public to facilitate their becoming members of BirdLife.

“When you become a member, you will be demonstrating a commitment beyond marking the box captioned “no” last Saturday. Your membership will demonstrate that nature and the environment are truly important to you.”

The group is currently holding its annual Spring Watch Camp, where volunteers are spread across the countryside to observe the migration of birds as well as to uncover hunting abuses. Saliba said that this year’s Spring Watch Camp was already proving effective and that its effectiveness could only increase with greater numbers of volunteers.

He advised any prospective members could join by sending in the forms, which will be published on the Sunday papers, or by sending an email to office@birdlifemalta.org.

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