Andrea Zanoni, an Italian Member of the European Parliament visited volunteers working in the CABS hunting monitoring operatio in Malta yesterday in order to see for himself 'the threat to migrant birds on Malta," CABS said.

The first stop on his whistle stop tour was the Buskett Gardens area to watch the morning departure of birds of prey from their night roost on Saturday.

Mr Zanoni and the CABS teams were able to observe good numbers of Lesser Kestrels, several Honey Buzzards, Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk leaving Malta unscathed on the next leg of their journey to Africa.

CABS volunteers also explained to the politician the darker side of bird hunting by means of a video showing the illegal shooting down of protected harriers, falcons, Honey Buzzards and herons over the past 14 days, CABS said.

Zanoni commented "It is very sad to see birds that are the focus of extensive conservation measures in their breeding areas in other EU states, being killed here on Malta by poachers". The MEP also expressed his concern about the announcement by the Maltese Government that the trapping of Golden Plover and Song Thrushes with clap nets would again be permitted in October.

"The trapping of birds using nets is expressly forbidden under the European Union bird protection guidelines. Malta is taking the risk of again having to answer to the European Court of Justice for contravention against these guidelines" the politician was quoted as saying.

After breakfast Zanoni and the CABS team drove to the Laferla Cross to meet senior officers of the Administrative Law Enforcement unit, responsible for enforcing bird protection legislation. Zanoni was clearly impressed by the work of the ALE and praised their efforts to prevent poaching. On the other hand he 'regretted the lack of political will on Malta to reinforce the ALE to permit them to pursue a policy of proactive enforcement and to cover all known poaching hotspots in an adequate manner'. He supported the demands by CABS, repeated frequently over the last few years, for the ALE to be substantially reinforced and the formation of an efficient and professional wildlife crime unit.