Over 100,000 birds killed in Malta each year – BirdLife International


Tens of millions of migratory birds are being killed illegally each year across the Mediterranean, according to the first scientific review of its kind to be carried out in the region by BirdLife International.

Despite not ranking in the top 10 overall, Malta (where 108,000 birds are estimated to be killed illegally each year, it said) is still seeing the region’s highest estimated number of birds illegally killed per square kilometre, the Review said. In Malta: the mean estimated number of birds killed illegally each year is 108,000, with a minimum number of 5,800 and a maximum number of 211,000, the study said.


Birdlife International stated that when territorial size and population are taken into account, Malta has the highest rate. This is because in Malta, around 340 birds are killed for every kilometre whilst in Italy this figure is 19.

BirdLife and Partners have uncovered the shocking extent to which a number of birds are being illegally killed, putting together a list of the ten countries with the highest estimated annual death toll.

Although countries currently hit by conflict, such as Syria and Libya, feature high in the rankings, some European nations also fare poorly.

Italy (where 5.6 million birds are estimated to be killed illegally every year is second only to Egypt for the estimated mean number of illegal killings each year, with the Famagusta area of Cyprus the single worst location in the Mediterranean.

Other European countries featuring in the top 10 are; Greece mean estimate of 0.7 million birds killed annually, France million, Croatia 0.5 million and Albania 0.3 million.

The review also exposes some of the common methods of killing in use across the Mediterranean, including illegal shooting, capture in nets and recordings of bird sounds used to lure large numbers of birds to illegal trapping locations.

The report estimates that Eurasian Chaffinch comes top of the ‘kill list’ (an estimated 2.9 million are killed each year), with Eurasian Blackcap (1.8 million), Common Quail (1.6 million) and Song Thrush (1.2 million ) making up the rest of the top four.

According to BirdLife International, “European Turtle-doves have declined by 30% throughout Europe since the millennium and in some countries by as much as 90% in the same period. Yet more than one million are still illegally killed each year.”

This further demonstrates why the Birds Directive, currently under review by the European Commission, should be better implemented, rather than re-opened, BirdLife International said.

It also marks the launch of BirdLife’s new Keeping the Flyway Safe fundraising campaign to help target resources for conservation in the worst affected locations.

BirdLife International CEO, Patricia Zurita, stated, “this review shows the gruesome extent to which birds are being killed illegally in the Mediterranean. Populations of some species that were once abundant in Europe are declining, with a number even in free-fall and disappearing altogether.”

“Our birds deserve safer flyways – concluded BirdLife’s CEO – and we want conservation efforts to be increased now, before it’s too late.”

The data in this review previews a scientific paper due to be published soon giving a full assessment of the situation in the Mediterranean.



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