A protected flamingo was shot and another disappeared when a flock of three took flight from the Għadira nature reserve on Friday.
A few minutes later only two returned with one clearly displaying a gunshot injury to its neck, BirdLife Malta said on Saturday, relaying images of the shot birds to the media.
"This incident just proves the sad reality that illegal hunting in Malta and Gozo is rampant... It is the worst year for the illegal hunting of protected birds in the past six years," the NGO said.
Worst year for the illegal hunting of protected birds in the past six years
BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana said it is disheartening to know that people who are being given the privilege to go out in the countryside with loaded shotguns for their enjoyment can be disrespectful towards society.
"We are aware that many hunters would deplore this incident and also the many illegal hunting going on, yet it is time for the hunting lobby to get rid of these people once and for all."
BirdLife said it would continue working with all stakeholders including the police, the government and the hunting lobby itself to reach this aim, as it called on the government to set up a Wildlife Crime Unit to seriously focus solely on wildlife crime.
During the past 12 months, the Greater Flamingos at BirdLife Malta’s Għadira Nature Reserve were among the most popular birds enjoyed by the thousands that visited the reserve.
Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.Support Us