Updated 8.15pm; adds Parliamentary Secretary's comment

Poachers on private land shot down a young flamingo as it flew over a field in Munxar on Tuesday evening, BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultanta has claimed. 

Mr Sultana published a Facebook live video shortly after the alleged shooting in which he described seeing the protected bird fall from the sky. 

“They shot and downed a flamingo,” Mr Sultana said. “There were three young ones, and one of them was hit and it fell”. 

The bird conservation activists said that he was waiting for police to arrive on the scene, noting that there were just two Administrative Law Enforcement patrol vehicles available on the day. The ALE is the police unit responsible for cracking down on poachers and hunting irregularities. 

Animal Rights parliamentary secretary Clint Camilleri said no reports had been filed with the Wild Birds Regulation Unit.

"I can neither confirm nor deny that a flamingo has been shot," he told Times of Malta.

Flamingos are a protected species by law, and shooting them is a crime. That has not, however, deterred poachers from targeting them over the years. 

In November 2018, one flamingo vanished and another returned to Għadira Nature Reserve with a gunshot wound a short while after a flock of three were spotted flying out

Just one month later, a flamingo inside the reserve was snatched by an intruder

Other flamingos were shot in separate incidents in 2017, 2014, 2013 and 2012

Earlier on Tuesday, BirdLife activists rescued an exhausted young flamingo at Daħlet Qorrot. Another flamingo surprised sunbathers at Għadira Bay, while a separate flock of three was spotted at St Thomas Bay in Marsascala. That flock is believed to be the same one that Mr Sultana saw getting shot in Munxar. 

“It is disgusting to see people in 2019 shoot protected birds like the flamingo for fun, with the excuse of having shotguns to shoot at rabbits,” Mr Sultana said. 

A BirdLife spokesman said that all the birds spotted on Tuesday appear to be part of an initial flock of around 35 Greater Flamingos which were spotted offshore earlier in the day.

In all cases the juvenile birds seem to have strayed away from the rest.

Times of Malta has also contacted the Hunters’ Federation FKNK for comment.  


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