The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

Only one stork left, BirdLife Malta representative says while suspecting the rest were killed

Kevin Schembri Orland Wednesday, 22 August 2018, 08:08 Last update: about 4 months ago

Only one of the 18 storks that flew to Malta is left, Conservation Manager at BirdLife Malta Nicholas Barbara told The Malta Independent.

On 10 August, Three White Storks that were part of the group of eighteen that visited Malta were shot down. BirdLife Malta had said that the birds were first spotted in Gozo and then later on in Malta in Rabat and Mdina.

Barbara said that when they arrived there were four storks killed around Dingli as a result of illegal hunting. In the following days they went to Zebbug, then Gozo and then appeared in Maghtab. By the time they reached Maghtab, he said, the numbers reduced to six. As at last Saturday, only four were seen and this number is now down to one he said. Asked what he thinks happened, he said that their suspicion is that the birds were all illegally killed.

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"Unfortunately they were not staying in one place. At night they would sleep in safe spots, like on cranes, but during the day they would move around probably going down into water sources in private fields and we suspect they were killed."

"It is worrying that in 2018 we still see these incidents occur, especially where after 2014, then Animal rights Parliamentary Secretary Roderick Galdes in reaction to a similar incident in Maghtab had raised the fines up to €5,000 for killing storks."

"It seems that hunters feel at liberty to abuse, as there is no strict enforcement. The fines are there, and are a deterent, but nothing will happen until enforcement occurs. On the day the storks began being killed we had to wait around 70 minutes until the police came on site, with a dead stork near us in a field. It seems that the enforcement setup is not ready to react to such things, and that there are more people ready to go out for these birds than there is enforcement ready to react."

The storks are protected and are on a special list in Maltese laws, he explained, adding that it is not a bird normally seen in Malta. He said that two hunters have thus far been charged in court over the killing of storks. He explained that there are people who look for these birds to kill them and stuff them through taxidermy.

On 13 August, the courts denied bail for the man accused of shooting down four white storks. On 15 August, two more storks have been killed, this time at Maghtab, and Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri said on Facebook that a man has been arrested in connection with the latest incident.


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