Since arriving in Malta a few months ago, I’ve noticed something odd. There are no birds. I mean, I’m sure they’re around, but I haven’t seen any. Not one.
This seemed rather peculiar given Malta’s position as a small island nation in the Mediteranian, right between Africa and Europe and presumably on well trafficked routes for numerous migratory birds.
Determined to find out the cause, I went online to investigate and sure enough discovered that while Malta was frequently visited and traversed by more than 400 species of birds, an annual bird hunting season in April is believed to be responsible for dramatically reducing the country’s bird population as well as the populations of any other species that may be unforunate enough to visit.
“If it flies. It dies”
Illegal bird hunting, particularly of endangered species appears to have become a source of dispute, not just within the country where 60% of the population were polled to be in favour of applying stricter codes, but between Malta and the European Union, which has issued directives accusing the Maltese government of violating the EU Bird Directive by failing to enforce existing laws.
Despite popular opinion appearing to oppose the bird hunting in it’s current form, the last referendum, held 6 years ago, saw a vote in favour (50.4%) of maintaining existing laws, with culture and tradition cited as being the principal reasons.
It may be some time before effective and willingly enforced legislation comes into play. Until then, if you have wings, it’s probably best to steer clear.