BirdLife Malta is disgusted and disappointed by the killing of two black storks which happened on the 12th September. They are now appealing to the Prime Minister of Malta to suspend the hunting season during the present migration peak, in order to safeguard protected birds.
Image credit: Raymond Galea
Malta’s conservation efforts were dented on the 12th September when two black storks were shot dead. BirdLife Malta’s officials witnessed one of the black storks (ċikonja sewda) struggling in flight over Buskett with what looked like a
blood stain on its chest. It eventually died and its body went into police custody.
The black stork was originally one of two birds shot at on Gozo. One was killed and picked up by a hunter, the details of which have been passed on to the police by BirdLife Malta. The other black stork, although suffering from gunshot injuries to the belly and lead pellets in the left wing, had continued its migration and reached Malta where it joined three white storks (ċikonja bajda) seen at the airport area. It later succumbed to its injuries and was also handed to the police.
Image credit: Joe Sultana
Another white stork was earlier observed in Gozo, also sporting an injury. Two of the white storks are ringed, with rings belonging to the Italian ringing scheme, tracing them back to Udine in the North-East of Italy. It’s interesting to note that this is the second time that birds from this conservation project in Italy have made their way to Malta. On the 16th September 2014, a flock of ten storks from the same area had roosted in Marsa, with one of them shot dead, leading to the Government’s decision to close the hunting season.
Following the illegal killing of protected birds in the last few days, including night herons, bee-eaters, a golden oriole and reportedly a honey buzzard, this latest case of the black storks is a clear sign that with all the good intentions from Government of Malta and the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit (ALE), illegal hunting on the islands is yet uncontrolled.
Image credit: BirdLife Malta
In view of all this, BirdLife Malta is requesting the Government of Malta to suspend the hunting season till the 15th October, in order to allow a safer passage during the migration of protected birds such as birds of prey, herons, and possibly other flocks of storks. BirdLife Malta reminds the Government of Malta that the laws and fines enacted are there to protect birds, and hence if these fail, more drastic measures would be expected. This would not be a collective punishment but a method of safeguarding the birds.
Image credit: BirdLife Malta
BirdLife Malta wants to thank the Malta Police Force for its constant collaboration and also the general public for the information they continuously pass over, and urges them to keep this up. Those who would like to support our work could also become members by visiting the BirdLife Malta website.