During Raptor Camp 2009, BirdLife Malta and the Committee Against Bird Slaughter (CABS, a Germany based organisation that runs a separate camp than BirdLife’s Raptor Camp) volunteers found the largest single incident of wild bird crime in Malta in the recent history. On the 20th and 21st of September, the remains of over 200 protected birds were found hidden in an area of the Mizieb woodland, which the FKNK claims to manage this public land as a hunting reserve for some of its members.
The bodies, which ranged from freshly killed Marsh Harriers to bones that appeared to be several months and maybe years old, were located in stashes under rocks, in crevices and under rubbish. The remains included Marsh Harriers, Honey-buzzards, unidentified birds of prey, Night Herons among others.
A freshly shot Marsh Harrier found hidden under a stone in Mizieb woodland in September 2009. Photo by A Raine 2009.
Only a third of the woodland area was searched, and it is highly probable that many more remains are left to be discovered. Despite this, the police have failed to undertake a proper investigation of the area, did not secure the crime scene, continued to allow hunters to actively hunt in the woods before the area was fully searched and allowed the FKNK to hold a mass meeting in the woods a few days after the bodies were discovered.
Mizieb is a show case of the illegal hunting situation in Malta. Following the failure of the police to secure the crime scene and launch an extensive investigation, and also inaction from the authorities, BirdLife Malta wrote to the Attorney General requesting his intervention to ensure a serious inquiry was held into why the crime was not being treated with the seriousness it deserved.
To date no one has been charged and no statements have been forthcoming from the authorities in charge of bird protection.