The 19th September 2016 marked the commencement of BirdLife Malta’s Raptor Camp, where for three weeks, twenty volunteers from eight different countries will be joining forces with BirdLife Malta in monitoring the illegal hunting of wild birds during the period when the peak autumn migration coincides with the hunting season.
Raptor Camp is an international camp organised by BirdLife Malta every year, and till the 9th October, a group of international volunteers will be all around Malta and Gozo’s countryside to make sure that the birds that are traditionally targeted in Malta are protected.
Malta is situated on the central migratory route between breeding grounds in Europe and wintering grounds in Africa, serving as a critical resting place in the Mediterranean for migratory birds. Nevertheless, with around 10,000 registered hunters, Malta has the highest density of hunters in the European Union. Unfortunately, birds that pass over the Maltese Islands are still met with illegal gunfire, and as observed by CABS earlier last week, “although the autumn hunting season in Malta is only two weeks old, we’ve already seen more illegalities than during the whole spring hunting season.”
Image credit: Ella Beeson – At Buskett during Raptor Camp 2015
Although footage evidence of more criminal acts against raptors and other protected species emerged in the last few days confirming that illegal hunting at this time of year is still uncontrolled, no action from the Government has been taken. BirdLife Malta still insists that the season should be closed until the 15th of October when migration slows down in order to make it more difficult for illegal hunting to take place.
During the next three weeks, the international volunteers will join forces with BirdLife Malta’s own staff and will be patrolling those areas where illegal hunting usually takes place, collecting bird migration data and reporting illegal hunting activities to the authorities on a daily basis.
Any illegalities should be first reported immediately to the Police on 119, and then to BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645/6 or on the emergency number 7925 5697 during out-of-office hours. Other reports can be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a Facebook message.