Some 400 turtledoves were released in Buskett this morning in what marked the beginning of a project that is meant to help maintain the sustainability of the species.

The birds were captive-bred as part of a programme financed by the hunters' federation, FKNK, and supported by the government.

FKNK CEO Lino Farrugia told this newspaper that the aim was to eventually breed 5,000 turtledoves, equalling the maximum number of turtledoves that hunters were allowed to shoot.

This year, the spring hunting season was opened for quail only.

He explained that a total of 14 hunters bred these 400 birds in two months, and more were expected to join the cause in the coming months.

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