International impact

According to the analysis of the international ring recoveries a total of 75 species, representing 35 countries, were found to have been killed in MaltaIllegal hunting is therefore an international issue that affects the breeding birds of almost all countries in Europe.  In particular, a high proportion of recoveries of illegally shot birds come from birds of prey and herons.  As these birds are often rare or declining species, have small numbers of young and take several years to reach sexual maturity, the impact of illegal hunting pressures on their populations can have serious repercussions on their conservation status.  




This Flamingo was shot in 2009. Photo by Denis Cachia.

The majority of ringed raptors and herons that have been shot over Malta are of juvenile birds and birds ringed in the nest.  Although it is to be expected that for these species higher numbers of birds will be ringed as nestlings as opposed to adults, it is still important to realise that these are birds which have been born and fledged in foreign countries, often as a result of concerted conservation effort.  After fledging, these birds subsequently commence their migration and pass over Malta, where they may then fall victim to illegal persecution by Maltese poachers.  

o Furthermore, as it takes several years for the young of many of these species to reach sexual maturity, they have to survive several migrations before they are of a sufficient age to successfully breed.  The chances of survival to breeding age of those birds having to pass repeatedly over Malta are therefore affected by the high levels of illegal hunting pressure.  Ring recoveries of birds ringed as nestlings and killed in Malta include Osprey (Unfavourable Conservation Status, Rare), Lesser Kestrel (Global Status Vulnerable), Saker Falcon (Globally Endangered, entire European population 360-540 pairs) and Purple Heron (Unfavourable Conservation Status, Declining).

These results clearly demonstrate the key importance of Malta on one of the main European-African migratory flyways and the international impact of hunting and trapping activities in the country.

Law enforcement is a key problem as enforcement authorities are under-resourced and under-staffed. Read more about nature protection law enforcement in Malta here. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 June 2011, 9:09:07 AM