Watch: At least six Honey Buzzards shot during migration – CABS

Poacher caught hunting in bird sanctuary

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

In the last days, at least six protected Honey Buzzards (Kuċċarda) have been killed in the area around the Malta International Airport, revealed the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS).

In a statement, the Committee described how 50 Honey Buzzards arrived in Ħas Saptan valley on the evening of September 20th. It added that despite the strict hunting curfew after 1.00pm on Sundays and public holidays, as the birds began to settle in trees, 22 shots were fired from five different locations. In addition, in the same area, one team filmed a hunter in a hide with a silencer on his shotgun. Police were called and apprehended the man. Two shotguns were confiscated.

The next morning (21 September, public holiday), at the same location, CABS members observed around 20 Honey Buzzards rise and fly south to continue their journey to Africa. But shortly after the birds tried to cross the nearby Wied il-Qoton, four were observed being shot down close to the runway edge lights. Again, the incident was reported to the police. Despite an intensive search, neither the dead buzzards nor the persons who killed them could be found.

On Monday afternoon, a CABS team followed a flock of Honey Buzzards until the birds decided to roost in Eucalyptus trees in the Birżebbuġa. Despite the afternoon hunting curfew still being in place, five shots were heard when the first birds flew low. When the team arrived at the scene a man carrying a shotgun was filmed running off. Video material clearly showing his face and the weapon in his hands has been passed on to the police.

“Yesterday morning CABS continued to monitor the roost in Birzebbugia. As soon as the first buzzards left the roost, gunshot fire increased significantly with at least two birds being hit,” CABS Wildlife Crime Officer Fiona Burrows reported.

Today, a CABS team also filmed a hunter with his shotgun in the middle of the Il-Ballut ta’ Marsaxlokk bird sanctuary where all hunting is strictly prohibited. The man was subsequently apprehended and had his shotgun seized by the police.

CABS teams insisted that they will continue to monitor the situation and document any illegalities during the peak raptor migration, thousands of birds arriving from continental Europe are expected to pass the islands this week.