21 June 2013

Killers

At Gordan Lighthouse - I thought he was a rabbit hunter but he
was probably focussed on the assassination of birds.
Until our recent holiday in Malta, I had no idea that that this little country is home to many hundreds of cruel and unimaginative "bird hunters". For generations, men of a certain disposition have trapped migrating birds or blasted them out of the skies with a range of weapons. Various laws have been devised to attempt to reduce this avian slaughter bur the gun lobby in Malta is strong and their nasty pastime continues to this day. I found this after a quick Google search...

Malta has one of the world's highest number of hunters per capita, who shoot and kill any bird that flies. The skies over Malta and the surrounding sea are devoid of birds. Each year, 3 million birds are shot or trapped on Malta while migrating between Africa and Europe in the spring and autumn, leading to a gradual decline of these beloved European birds that traditionally seek refuge in Malta.


The Maltese hunters have all but destroyed the country’s namesake, the Maltese falcon. In 1982, hunters on the island of Ghawdex shot the last pair of nesting Maltese falcons, also known as peregrine falcons. Every year the hunters also trap millions of wild songbirds that die needlessly shortly after being caged. Politically, these hunters have won the upper hand through bullying tactics. They are organized and have intimidated political parties, governments and environmentalists.


During our nine day holiday I investigated several little DIY hunting shelters. They are scattered throughout the landscape like little air raid shelters. Often there were spent cartridges scattered around and invariably, inside each shelter there'd be a gun rack and a single old chair pointing outwards where presumably these thoughtless nitwits would sit to conduct their "sport". I came across at least three lone "hunters" and a couple of men who were unloading rifles from their 4x4 vehicle one dawn. The driver said, "Oh we just like a day out in the country. Get away from our wives. Have some food. Maybe a drink..." The lying toad!

In a world where so many bird species are in decline, it beggars belief that a significant percentage of Maltese and Gozitan  men think it is okay to continue with their  killing. I cannot understand what pleasure there is to be found in massacring birds - amazing and often beautiful creatures that ride on the wind and adapt to a wide range of environments, following patterns of migration that are so old they are written in their very DNA. We should be cherishing them and applauding the fact that we share this planet with them, not trapping them or blasting them out of the skies.

Perhaps after some internet research of your own and if you feel as concerned about this issue as I am, please write to:-
PM Joseph Muscat
Office of the Prime Minister
Auberge de Castille.
Valletta,
Malta.
One of hundreds of  DIY shooting hides in Malta and Gozo

6 comments:

  1. YP, this is not the postcard from Malta that their tourist board wants to send home. To be so stupid and not be able to analyse our own behaviors does not make us a very smart species in the web of life.

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  2. I know women have faults, too, like some of us have too many shoes. But, to me, there is no equivalent female fault to men who enjoy blasting away at birds. Birds! Where could you find something more harmless? I shared your reaction to hunters when I traveled through Texas. I would pass through an area where the fences were 8 feet high. They do this in California vineyards to keep deer out. In Texas they do it to keep the wildlife IN so they can charge men to blast them away. I hate war, but somehow it seems better when people just shoot at each other.

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  3. I can't think of one good activity involving guns.

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  4. CAROL CUNNINGHAM I think there should be a campaign to bring the Maltese hunters to heel - I guess by going there, tourists are colluding with the annual slaughter.
    JAN BLAWAT The only way we should shoot wildlife is with cameras. I always say that wars are made by men. Women just pick up the pieces. (Margaret Thatcher being the exception)
    HELEN What about water pistols?

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  5. I had no idea this was happening and am saddened. It seems to me that a letter writing campaign to the government might likely produce little, if any result, as the government appears not to be the problem. I suggest getting the name and possibly a photo of individual offenders and posting that on the internet. You could do it anonymously or if you are unconcerned with repercussions, you could post them on your blog.

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  6. Thanks for the first-hand info, YP, intrepid reporter. I'd heard about this shocking going-on as I have some friends in the international equivalent of RSPB, "bird-protection NGOs", who have campaigned again and again on this. They've taken the case to the European parliament but with little effect (will avoid the obvious comment here!).
    Anyway, nice to hear from someone who's actually been there and can confirm that it is just a massacre and not a quaint tradition.

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