Luke Massey, PNY photo ambassador supporting BirdLife Malta
Every autumn thousands of birds, from harriers to herons, pass through Malta as migrate south from Europe to spend the winter in Africa. Last autumn 85 different species of birds including 19 different species of raptors were recorded passing through Malta. These birds have spent the summer in their breeding grounds in Europe and many of them are juveniles, migrating south for the first time in their lives.
When they reach Malta, already tired and hungry from flying long distances, these birds have to run the gauntlet of Maltese hunters, many of whom think nothing of shooting at protected species. Birds of prey are targeted for fun or for taxidermy (trophy hunting). There is still a thriving black market in stuffed birds in Malta and an unusual specimen can fetch a high price.
Policing of the countryside and enforcement of hunting season is inadequate due to lack of resources. BirdLife Malta is striving to record these crimes and aims to push through prosecutions to bring this illegal hunting to stop.
In the first week of this year's autumn hunting season, which began on the 1st September, Birdlife Malta recovered 7 illegally shot protected birds. "This is the worst start to a hunting season since we started recording numbers of shot protected birds," said Rupert Masefield, BirdLife Malta's Communications Intern, "and these are just the birds which members of the public bring to us. We get reports of protected birds being shot every day. It's anybody's guess what the true number is".
Luke Massey is in Malta to aid BirdLife Malta in photographing and filming its activities. Producing videos and photos to educate the public and use as evidence against the illegal hunters.
PNY has kindly donated 15 SD cards to be used by volunteers on the Raptor Camp project to film and photograph the illegal hunting.