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Greater flamingos shot by hunters in Malta

08/10/2012 08:03:04

The AFM recovered one of the injured juvenile Greater Flamingos shot at Qawra Point. It was stuck in the rough sea unable to fly to safety due to its injuries. Photograph by Luke Massey.

Flamingos shot near Qawra

October 2012. A flock of Greater Flamingos were shot by at least one illegal hunter standing on Malta's shoreline at Qawra in full view of passers by, as the flock flew overhead across Salina Bay. Three are thought to have been killed, falling into the sea and two others were injured. A third injured flamingo was also seen flying very low around another bay.

BirdLife Malta has passed information to the local environment police about the identity of a suspect and is waiting for action from the police.

The flock of around 40 flamingos was first spotted heading along the coastline towards St Paul's Bay, where the birds are believed to have roosted overnight near St Paul's Islands.

The next morning, as the birds attempted to continue their migration, they came under fire and at least three of them were seriously injured and three most probably killed. The remaining birds were seen flying north towards Gozo.

Boycott Malta?

This carnage has been going on too long now, and the Maltese Government are either incompetent or complicit. Wildlife Extra is always reticent about calling for a boycott due to the harm it can do, but in Malta's case we are happy to make an exception. 

It is time to stop visiting Malta until this carnage is halted. 

Birdlife Malta statement

BirdLife Malta does not support a tourism boycott of the islands, as such boycotts have been ineffective in the past and because the organisation feels that more can be achieved by promoting nature tourism in Malta.

We are working to encourage visitors to our reserves, where they can learn about the problems facing migrating birds in Malta and hopefully go away with their eyes opened and spread the message in a more positive way. We welcome support in the fight against illegal hunting and trapping in Malta and international volunteers can join us during the spring and autumn camps we organize every year. 

Rescued from the sea
An Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) boat rescued one of the injured juvenile flamingos from the sea off the coast of Qawra Point. BirdLife kept a night watch to safeguard the second injured Flamingo at the Salina salt pans. The AFM joined BirdLife Malta and the ALE in their efforts to recover the injured bird, which was floundering in the choppy sea off the coast, unable to fly due to its injuries.

The second injured juvenile Greater Flamingo standing in the middle of Salina Bay and the end of the saltpans, where it remained all night, monitored by a BirdLife Malta team. Photograph by Luke Massey.

The second injured juvenile Greater Flamingo standing in the middle of Salina Bay and the end of the saltpans, where it remained all night, monitored by a BirdLife Malta team. Photograph by Luke Massey.

A second juvenile flamingo with an injured leg remained at the end of the saltpans in the middle of Salina Bay overnight. A BirdLife Malta team kept a watch on the protected bird throughout the night, to prevent poachers from shooting it again in its vulnerable state.

Also in Salina the BirdLife team observed a flock of seven Grey Herons, one of which had a visible gunshot injury.

BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, who immediately went to the scene, stated: "This is yet another example of how illegal hunting is widespread and not isolated cases as claimed by the authorities. Arrival of rare birds in Malta, like these Greater Flamingos, should attract tourists; instead it attracts poachers with guns."

Illegal hunting
BirdLife alone has recovered 40 dead protected birds over the last four weeks and observed around 200 protected birds being shot at and flying with gunshot injuries.

"These figures only scrape the surface of the true extent of illegal hunting in Malta," said Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager. "The authorities do not publish the number of shot protected birds they receive and many more are never found as the evidence is destroyed by the poachers.

"It appears that nowhere in Malta is immune to illegal hunting. A BirdLife team recovered a shot Night Heron a few metres from the Prime Minister's residence," Mr Barbara concluded.

BirdLife Malta encourages members of the public to report illegal hunting incidents to the ALE and inform BirdLife. Instructions on how to file a report can be found at


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