Following the shooting of several greater flamingos in St Paul’s Bay last Wednesday, BirdLife’s office has been flooded with injured and dead protected birds, and numerous reports of protected birds being shot in several locations, the organisation said.

It said in a statement that, over the last 48 hours, BirdLife Malta together with the RSPB (BirdLife UK) Investigations team and CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) also kept an overnight watch at Dingli last night to safeguard the roosting Egyptian vultures.

Over the last two days, it recovered seven injured protected birds, including a common kestrel, a night heron, a yellow-legged gull, a hoopoe, a lesser kestrel, a marsh harrier and a honey buzzard.

The conservation organisation also received confirmation of a shot hobby in Gozo yesterday. The injured bird was recovered by a birdwatcher and the Malta Environment and Planning Authority has been informed.

“Illegal hunting is clearly completely out of control and the Government’s claims of high levels of enforcement and zero-tolerance of illegal hunting bear no relation to reality,” Nicholas Barbara, BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager said. 

BirdLife said hunters also had illegally shot at two endangered juvenile Egyptian vultures seen arriving in Malta on Wednesday by birdwatchers in Dwejra. They said the vultures were luckily soaring high above the cliffs and were not hit.

BirdLife said that with the cooperation of local birdwatchers, it followed the vultures which eventually roosted in a quarry in Dingli.

BirdLife, together with RSPB investigations staff, CABS and local birdwatchers, set up an overnight watch to guard the birds, with teams positioned to cover the area around the quarry.

Having made it safely through the night, both vultures were yesterday morning able to continue their migration south, protected by the continued presence of the volunteers and MEPA and police officers.