Seabird researchers target of violent intimidation in Gozo
|Email item||Print item||
BirdLife Malta said in a statement this afternoon that “researchers from the EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project were the target of a violent act of vandalism and intimidation in Gozo yesterday, when the car they were using was shot several times while parked on the road in a protected area.”
Three ornithologists from the project were visiting the site, which is home to the largest colony of Scopoli’s Shearwaters (Ciefa) in the Maltese Islands, to fit identification rings to the young chicks on their nests as part of the study of this important population.
BLM said that at “about 4.30pm, two members of the group who were standing at the edge of the cliffs heard a volley of shots from a shotgun, but were unable to locate the person who had fired the shots in the immediate area.”
When the team returned to the road two hours later they found one side of the car covered in dents from the spray of lead pellets that were on the ground, together with tiny flakes of chipped paint from the car, BLM said.
Commenting on the seriousness of incident, Steve Micklewright, BirdLife Malta’s Executive Director said, “this kind of act of aggression and intimidation is obviously completely unacceptable. That it was directed at these individuals, apparently for no other reason than that they are ornithologists working for BirdLife Malta, is of course of grave concern to us, because of the threat to the personal safety of our staff and volunteers working on this and other conservation projects.”
Miclewright pointed out, “with volunteers arriving from all over Europe to join Maltese volunteers for the start of Raptor Camp this weekend, we are anxious to avoid a repeat of this incident and will do everything we can to make sure that our fieldworkers are safe.”
Photo by BLM – The damage caused by the spray of lead pellets from the shotgun fired at the vehicle being used by researchers from the EU LIFE+ Malta Seabird Project yesterday afternoon.