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BirdLife Malta’s Raptor Camp 2016 kicks off today for 3 weeks

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BirdLife Malta’s Raptor Camp 2016 kicks off today for 3 weeksBirdLife Malta's Raptor Camp 2016 kicks off today with, it said, "the aim of monitoring 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 will this year take place until the 9th October – "three full weeks during which 20 volunteers from 8 different countries will be all around Malta and Gozo's countryside to make sure that the birds that are traditionally targeted in Malta are protected," the NGO said.

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.

BirdLife said that, "nevertheless, with around 10,000 registered hunters it has the highest density of hunters in the European Union."

the NGO added, "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 already have seen more illegalities than during the whole spring hunting season,"

BirdLife Malta still insists that the season should be closed until the 15th of October when the birds of prey migration slows down in order to make it more difficult for illegal hunting to take place.

During the next three weeks, BLM said that "he 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."

"e reiterate our call to the authorities, in particular the Malta Police Force and the Administrative Law Enforcement (ALE) unit to put the protection of birds and their habitats on top in their agenda. We expect the ALE to immediately take the necessary actions against those who are caught breaking regulations. We will remain willing to assist and collaborate with enforcement officers as we have always done."

BirdLife Malta Conservation Coordinator Nick Piludu, who is the camp coordinator, commented "We are only two weeks into the hunting season and the number and gravity of illegalities observed so far is much worse than expected. This season is shaping up to be a hard one, but luckily this year's Raptor Camp team is composed by volunteers who know the island like the back of their hand and have extensive experience in protecting birds and combating wildlife crime. This being said, reports from the public are essential for our work, so if you witness illegal hunting, exceptional migration events, experience intimidation in the countryside, or find an injured bird, please get in touch with us."

BirdLife Malta said that any illegalities should be first reported immediately to the Police on 119, and then to BirdLife Malta on 2134 7645/6 or on our emergency number 7925 5697 during out of office hours.

Other reports can be sent by email to info@birdlifemalta.org or by leaving us a Facebook message on www.facebook.com/birdlifemalta.

Photo: Buskett during Raptor Camp 2015 (Photo by Ella Beeson)

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