CABS report hunting abuses and criticise Junior Minister Clint Camilleri
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The Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) has in a statement today reported “more hunting abuses,” and criticised Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri for “inflating and misusing” a facebook post issued by CABS earlier this month.
CABS said that its teams deployed in Malta and Gozo over the last three weeks have observed or filmed a total of 15 incidents of illegal hunting of protected bird species.
The cases include according to CABS – 4 “successful killings and 11 birds which were either observed being shot at or seen flying with obvious gunshot wounds.”
Among the birds affected are 7 Honey Buzzard, 5 Marsh Harrier, 1 Kestrel and 1 Grey Heron, it said.
CABS noted that most of the incidents reported were observed in the Girgenti and Dingli area. “Another poaching hotspot is Wied Qoton near Safi, an area especially known for the shooting of birds of prey and the widespread use of illegal bird calling machines for Quail and protected waders,” CABS said.
BirdLife Malta reported yesterday on facebook that they have received “26 shot protected birds since the beginning of the autumn hunting season.” CABS said that together its observations the total number of confirmed incidents of illegal shooting of protected birds now stands at 41.
CABS Press Officer Axel Hirschfeld said, “taking into account the massive unknown figure of unreported cases it can be assumed that a three figure number of protected birds has been killed by Maltese poachers this month alone.”
“After years of improvement this number is now pointing towards a slight increase in illegalities,” he added.
“This shows that the efforts made in the last 15 years are like a delicate flower which will quickly wilt if the government continues to fail to set up proper enforcement, especially in these known hotspot areas,” the conservationist said.
Hirschfeld also said that he was “bewildered to read that Clint Camilleri, the Parliamentary Secretary responsible for hunting, retweeted a Facebook post from CABS to back up his insupportable and unfunded claim” that “BirdLife Malta are inflating the few illegalities & are ignoring all positive news.”
He added that, “the post shared by Mr. Camilleri stated that on 14 September the CABS teams monitored a large number of Honey Buzzards roosting in Buskett without a single bird being shot.”
“This was a positive one-off event indeed but it had absolutely nothing to do with the cases documented by Birdlife Malta and CABS in other areas,” Hirschfeld noted, concluding that it was “Mr. Camilleri who inflated and misused the post made by CABS to whitewash the government´s year-long unwillingness to deal with poaching.”
Hirschfeld stated, “Mr. Camilleri has done nothing to boost up hunting enforcement and he knows very well that without the constant monitoring and reporting of CABS and BirdLife the balance sheet of the Maltese authorities would be nearly empty.”
According to CABS the key problems are the “lack of resources, trained officers and little government support for the ALE, the police unit responsible to fight poaching, which last week saw its 4th head inspector being transferred within 4 years.”
Photograph by CABS