A protected bird which was shot down in Salina was yesterday sent to Germany for rehabilitation at a specialised centre.
The osprey, a fish-eating raptor, had a numbered metal ring identifying it as a bird from the German northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as it had been ringed as a chick as part of a conservation project.
The bird suffered a broken wing after it was shot, while eating a fish it had just caught at the Salina salt pans, a bird sanctuary.
Two men were arrested by the Administrative Law Enforcement Unit but were then released as they were found not to be connected with the shooting.
The osprey was given first aid by local vets before being sent for rehabilitation at the Kirchwald Bird of Prey Rehab Centre near Koblenz. Most of the Ospreys seen on migration in Malta come from Sweden, Finland and Germany, and fly over the Maltese islands on their way to Africa, where they spend their winter.
The bird was sent to Germany quickly thanks to the efforts made by the police, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority, the government vet, Air Malta and CABS in Germany.
BirdLife said that it had received a call at around 2.15 pm. on Monday from a birdwatcher, who reported that an Osprey had flown into the Salina Bird Sanctuary. Shortly afterwards, BirdLife received a report that the bird had been fired at. BirdLife Malta informed the ALE and sent teams to the Bird Sanctuary to search for the bird.
The injured Osprey was found after it had struggled in the water and managed to settle on some vegetation adjacent to the walls of the salt pans.
“This Osprey was shot in a Bird Sanctuary, in broad daylight, next to a main road and surrounded by residential areas, minutes after it arrived” said Birdlife said.
“This is outrageous but this is the fate many protected species meet when they come to Malta.”
The Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FKNK) condemned the shooting and said such incidents could not be tolerated.
This particular species was the subject of various initiatives in Europe aimed at restoring its conservation status and therefore, anyone who hindered its rehabilitation could not, in any manner, be considered as a conservationist.
If the persons arrested in connection with this act were convicted by a law court, their FKNK membership would be cancelled, the federation said.
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