Malta migratory bird massacre, filmed by Chris Packham


This video is called Illegal finch trapping, spring 2014, Malta.

From Wildlife Extra:

Wildlife presenter Chris Packham to film the indiscriminate shooting of migrating birds on Malta

April 2014: Heading a self-funded camera crew, wildlife presenter Chris Packham will be filing nightly reports on YouTube of the events in Malta, as thousands of illegal hunters kill all manner of migrating birds as they pass over the island on their way from Africa to their European breeding grounds. These films, which Packham says on his website (www.chrispackham.co.uk) will not make comfortable viewing, will be shown from Easter Monday until Saturday, 26 April.

The annual spring slaughter on Malta, which last year involved at least 24 protected species, accounts for the deaths of honey buzzards, golden orioles, ospreys, cuckoos, night herons and black storks, among many others, and jeopardises future populations of these birds, which are either officially endangered or in severe decline here and in other parts of Europe.

In addition, many smaller species of birds such as finches, are trapped in nets, which also often account for the deaths of other animals accidentally caught in them.

On his website, Packham says of his team: “Our mission is to generate a wider awareness of this heinous practice with frank and factual reports from the frontline where our much loved migrant birds are being shot in huge numbers. It will not be pretty, the species killed include many UK favourites and rarities and the hunters are infamous for being confrontational and violent. I don’t care, this is not a holiday, it’s an attempt to bring this forgotten issue to a wider public attention and then to offer a couple of ways the viewers can actually do something to effect positive change.

“Please try to watch our broadcasts and please publicise them as widely as possible. I believe that people will be truly horrified when they see what happens on Malta to ‘our birds’, I believe they care and they will do something to change it.”

Existing Maltese laws that cover the hunting season, which is between 12 and 30 April, allow strictly regulated hunting of turtle doves and quail only, but these are openly flouted by local hunters. Following its entry into the EU in 2004, Malta was expected to curtail the spring hunting of turtle doves and quail, in line with the EU Birds Directive that prohibits the killing of such wild birds during the breeding or spring migration season. When this was not enforced by 2007, the European Courts of Justice ordered the country’s government not to open the spring hunting season in 2008. However, to date this has not happened. The illegal hunting of other birds, such as raptors, is not prosecuted in the country as there are limited resources to police it, and there is a strong pro-hunting lobby.

Birdlife Malta organises a Spring Watch camp, supported by ordinary people from all over Europe, to monitor bird migration on Malta and Gozo during the spring hunting season and prevent illegal hunting and trapping. Members of the camp have often been targeted by hunters with aggressive abuse and criminal damage.

For more information visit www.birdlifemalta.org.

To see Chris Packham’s films visit YouTube at 9.00pm UK time between 21 and 26 April.

See also here.

The video diary of events at the illegal spring hunting season on the Mediterranean island of Malta became an audio diary on Saturday 26 April, informing viewers that Chris Packham was arrested by Maltese police and held for four hours of questioning: here.

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Storm petrels nesting in Tunisia?


This video says about itself:

10 Sep 2012

Video from the EU Life+ Malta Seabird Project of a Mediterranean Storm Petrel chick being visited on its nest by one of its parents.

From North African Birds blog:

February 16, 2014 by

Ouni, R., Durand, J.-P., Mayol Serra, J., Essetti, I., Thevenet, M., & Renou, S. (2012). Nidification possible de l’Océanite tempête Hydrobates pelagicus à l’île Zembra, Tunisie. Alauda 80(4): 301–304.   PDF

Abstract:

Possible breeding of European Storm Petrel Hydrobates pelagicus at Zembra Island, Tunisia.

After investigations over five years, the first record of 6 individuals in late June 2012 suggests the possibility that this species breeds on Zembra and Zembretta archipelago in Tunisia.
Related papers:

Bourgeois, K., Ouni, R., Pascal, M., Dromzée, S., Fourcy, D., & Abiadh, A. (2013). Dramatic increase in the Zembretta Yelkouan shearwater breeding population following ship rat eradication spurs interest in managing a 1500-year old invasionBiological Invasions 15(3) : 475-482.

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Good Indian Amur falcon news, bad Maltese eagle news


This video is called Amur falcon‘s epic journey.

From Wildlife Extra:

Amur falcon massacre one year on – No birds killed so far!

Three weeks into the migration – Amur falcons hunted: Zero

October 2013. One year ago, more than 100,000 Amur falcons were killed in Nagaland in north-east India where they stop over on migration from southern Africa to Mongolia and eastern China. They make this journey, an extraordinary round-trip of some 14,000 miles every year, but it recently became apparent that as many as 100,000 falcons (some estimate even more) were being killed on their migration when they reached Nagaland. Witnesses claimed that tens of thousands of Amur falcons were being trapped and slaughtered every day during their migration.

So far in 2013, more than 300,000 Amur Falcons have arrived in Nagaland on migration. However, thanks to a campaign organised by the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), squads of ex-hunters and youths from three villages in the area have been patrolling the falcon roosting areas day and night to ensure they are safe.

Remarkably, the squads have recorded that not a single bird has been killed.

WTI and Natural Nagas started the project to prevent the slaughter of Amur falcons earlier this year, with support from CAF-India in collaboration with Nagaland Forest Department. The Village Council Members of three villages pledged that their respective villages would [stop to] hunt or kill falcons and made it a punishable offence. This was preceded and followed by a number of awareness campaigns and meetings with the villagers.

This video from 2012 is called Thousands of Amur falcon birds poached in Nagaland. I hope that the horrible images of this video will now be history forever.

Unfortunately, not all bird news is as good as this item from India.

This video from Malta says about itself:

12 confirmed shot in Maltese eagle massacre

Thursday 24th October- This morning the confirmed body count of eagles shot down by hunters in Malta and Gozo reached 12, after two more of these rare and highly protected birds of prey were killed in front of watching BirdLife Malta volunteers.

BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara, described the events as a tragic wake-up call:

“We haven’t seen the wanton slaughter of this many protected birds by this many hunters in Malta for a long time. It is difficult to see this as anything other than a complete catastrophe and the descriptions of the scale of killing we have seen in the last 24 hours as an “isolated incident” and the scenario that only a few rogue bad apples are responsible for killing protected birds is not consistent with reality.”

“We can only hope that these events serve as a serious wake-up call to the government that the current enforcement of hunting is not doing the job and things need to change for the situation to improve.”

Read the full story here.

Lampedusa, European governmental xenophobia kills refugees


This video is called (Again) More than 50 Migrant deaths Near Lampedusa 11/10/2013.

By Alex Lantier:

Fifty dead as another migrant ship sinks off Italy

12 October 2013

Dozens of migrants died yesterday when their boat capsized in heavy seas 100 kilometers south of the Italian island of Lampedusa, only one week after a similar disaster claimed the lives of at least 339 migrants within sight of the island.

Italian news agency Ansa said approximately 50 bodies, including women and 10 children, had been pulled from the water.

The navies of Italy and the nearby island nation of Malta worked to rescue survivors of the sinking. A Maltese ship reported having picked up approximately 150 people, while the Italian navy said it had rescued around 50 survivors and was sending more rescue boats to the scene.

“The operation is in progress. The navigational conditions are difficult, with a strong wind,” a Maltese navy spokesman told Agence France-Presse last night.

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told a news conference in Valletta that Maltese officials could confirm the death of at least 27 people, and “the number is expected to rise, possibly drastically.”

An Italian helicopter flew 10 rescued children to Lampedusa—where the survivors of last week’s sinking are being held under guard, threatened with deportation and fines of up to €5,000.

Initial reports indicated that the migrant ship ran into difficulty from the heavy seas and decided to signal for help. The boat allegedly capsized when those aboard gathered at one end of the vessel to catch the attention of a military aircraft flying nearby.

This shocking tragedy again underscores the terrible toll in lives from the European Union’s (EU) reactionary Frontex anti-immigrant legislation. Designed to keep immigrants from reaching Europe, it forces them to take unsafe routes into Europe and trust their lives to unseaworthy vessels, with tragic results.

Over the past 20 years, an estimated 25,000 people have died trying to enter Europe, many of them in the Mediterranean.

Public anger over the legislation has risen since last week’s Lampedusa sinking, with protests in Africa and in Italy, including a candlelight vigil on Lampedusa itself. When Manuel Barroso, the head of the EU Commission, arrived in Lampedusa on Wednesday, he was met with cries of “shame.”

The nationalities of the victims of yesterday’s sinking are not yet known. UN officials told the Associated Press that migrants today are generally fleeing persecution and wars in countries like Syria or Egypt.

Escalating fighting triggered by NATO-led proxy wars in Syria and Africa is forcing ever larger numbers of people to flee for their lives. The ship that sank on October 3 was carrying migrants from the East African countries of Eritrea and Somalia. Somalia has been the target of US drone strikes, invasions by regional military powers, and escalating tribal fighting.

Some 30,100 migrants arrived in Italy and Malta in the first nine months of 2013, compared with 15,000 in all of 2012. The 2013 figure included 7,500 refugees from Syria and 3,000 from Somalia.

The author also recommends:

Fortress Europe’s rising death toll.

Maltese birds still more endangered


This video is called Birds in Malta.

From Wildlife Extra:

Malta to remove some of the little protection that birds get

Introducing… The Wild Birds Deregulation Unit

13th August 2013 – BirdLife Malta has reacted to the news that the government is going to push back the autumn hunting afternoon curfew to 7pm by describing the team that has made this decision as Malta‘s very own “Birds Deregulation Unit”.

BirdLife Malta Executive Director Steve Micklewright said, “The media revealed that the government’s new Wild Birds Regulation Unit was being staffed by hunting sympathisers last week. This decision clearly shows what happens when you put hunters in charge of bird conservation.”

Licence for the illegal killing of protected birds

Describing the decision as a “licence for the illegal killing of protected birds”, Mr Micklewright concluded that, “This decision clearly shows that bird conservation on Malta is not best served by the new Wild Birds Regulation Unit under the Parliamentary Secretary for Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights.”

BirdLife Malta has sent an urgent letter to the Prime Minister asking for his direct intervention. Mr Micklewright added, “In our letter to the Prime Minister we call for bird conservation issues to be dealt with by the Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate Change, the decision to remove the curfew only emphasises that these issues are in the wrong hands.”

The decision flies in the face of careful evidence placed before the Ornis Committee in July 2013. BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager Nicholas Barbara said, “We provided clear evidence to the Ornis Committee that when the 3pm curfew was not in place during the first week of October when bird of prey migration is still on, we have witnessed many more incidents of shooting at protected species in the afternoons compared to when the curfew was still in place in September. This clearly shows that the 3pm curfew was effective.”

Completely useless

Commenting on the decision to push back the curfew to 7pm, Mr Barbara described this decision as, “completely useless” adding that, “Having the curfew at 7pm is practically equivalent to removing it. By 7pm most birds of prey would have roosted already, after having flown at low altitude within shooting range in search of a roosting site. It is the hours before dark that are the most critical and not after sunset.”

The proposal for a 7pm curfew extended by one week was made to the Ornis Committee by the Acting Head of the Wild Birds Regulation Unit, Sergei Golovkin who described it as, “An intermediary measure of a give and take situation.” Nicholas Barbara added, “When he was challenged by BirdLife about the logical sense of a curfew push back, no concrete answer was given.”

Hunters lobbied hard for the complete removal of the curfew arguing that law-abiding hunters were being penalised at the expense of the few illegal killers. Commenting on this position Mr Micklewright said, “The target species for law-abiding hunters are turtle dove and quail. Both turtle dove and quail tend to migrate at night and they are mostly hunted during the early hours of the morning. Pushing back the curfew will therefore make no difference to most law-abiding hunters.”

Refugees from NATO’s ‘new’ Libya in danger


This video is called Racism of the new Libyan government unveiled.

From Amnesty International (London):

Libya: Migrants Rescued At Sea After Fleeing Libya Must Be Allowed to Disembark in Malta

6 August 2013

Press release

The Maltese authorities must urgently allow a boat carrying 102 sub-Saharan Africans to disembark those on board, Amnesty International said.

The private vessel ‘MV Salamis’, which rescued the group stranded at sea and reportedly includes pregnant women, one injured woman and a five-month-old baby among its passengers, was stopped by the Maltese navy before it entered Maltese territorial waters last night. The group is currently stranded off the Maltese coast.

“The Maltese authorities have a humanitarian duty to ensure the safety and well-being of those rescued. They must allow the boat to disembark in Malta and its passengers to be given any necessary medical treatment, as well as a chance to apply for asylum,” said Jezerca Tigani, deputy director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International.

“Otherwise, the highest price may be paid by the women, men and children who may have to spend another night at sea with the fear of being sent back to Libya.”

The Maltese government has said it does not intend to take the passengers ashore, saying the ship’s captain should have taken them back to Libya.

“The Maltese government is wasting precious time in refusing to disembark people in immediate need,” said Jezerca Tigani.

Amnesty International considers that no passenger onboard MV Salamis should be removed to Libya. This would violate the international prohibition against removing anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of ill-treatment or other serious human rights abuses.

The military coup in neighbouring Egypt that overthrew President Mohamed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood government has further destabilised the shaky NATO-installed interim government of Libyan prime minister Ali Zeidan: here.

Apartheid for asylum seekers comes to Europe: here.

Anti-bird killing conference in Tunisia


This video is called Bird crime on Malta: Spring hunting season 2013, Montagu’s harrier shot down, CABS Bird Guards.

From BirdLife:

European experts on illegal killing of birds draft action plan in Tunis

At the end of May bird conservation experts met in Tunis at the Week on Conservation of Birds to identify ways forward to tackle illegal killing of birds. During the event, BirdLife Europe Partners shared best practices on key issues, such as bird poisoning, law enforcement measures and awareness strategies. The focus of the conference, organised by CMS and the Council of Europe, was to identify specific actions and priorities to work on, with the goal of ensuring the recovery of especially migratory birds protected by the CMS and Bern Convention.

Attendants reinforced their position on minimizing migratory bird poisoning, considered as “the one cause that probably has the highest conservation impact”, as Willem Van den Bossche, Nature Conservation Officer at BirdLife Europe stated at the meeting.

On the same subject, SEO (BirdLife in Spain) presented the outcomes of the LIFE+ project VENENO, which is bringing governmental authorities, environmental police and NGOs together. The project aims to fight against poisoned baits, identified as one of the main reasons behind migratory bird deaths, together with rodenticides, lead, veterinary drugs and insecticides.

The participants at the Week on Conservation of Birds prepared a draft action plan to reduce the illegal killing of birds. “When approved and linked to the EU roadmap towards eliminating illegal killing, trapping and trade of wild birds this will be a good tool to measure progress and results of the actions and to strengthen cooperation between stakeholders within the whole flyway of migratory birds”, says Willem Van den Bossche. In that sense, the Bern Convention, a treaty which recognises that European wildlife and habitats need to be preserved and handed on to future generations, is seen as “an opportunity for North African countries which are parties to the Convention to cooperate and protect important bird areas for migrating birds by including them in the Emerald Network, a network similar to Natura 2000 but outside the EU for protecting nature sites”, stresses Claudia Feltrup-Azafzaf, Executive Director at Association “Les Amis des Oiseaux” (AAO) – BirdLife in Tunisia.

At the conference BirdLife Cyprus explained its experience on taking cases into courts to prove that mistnets and limesticks are threatening many migrant birds travelling through the island, and insisted on promoting institutional collaboration and pushing law enforcement to address the issue. Another example was provided by BirdLife Malta. In Malta the law enforcement of illegal trapping and killing of protected birds still needs to be enhanced.

Effects of windfarms and powerlines on migratory birds were also analysed during the meeting. The research info and guidelines that will be produced in the follow-up of this conference will be extremely useful to ensure the zero tolerance approach to illegal killing all parties agree on.

Spoonbill feeding, video


This a video about a spoonbill feeding.

Walter Debloudts from the Netherlands made this video.

Maltese ‘hunters’ caught poaching


This video says about itself:

Illegal hunting in Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary, Malta, 18th April 2013

On Thursday afternoon, Spring Watch participants at the Għadira Nature Reserve witnessed masked men hunting illegally inside the Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary, taking advantage of the 1pm ALE shift handover during which time hardly any police are present in the countryside.

This is not the first time that such incidents have been reported, but this time round Spring Watch volunteers were able to film and photograph events as they unfolded and have passed on video evidence identifying the individuals to the ALE.

BirdLife Malta has questioned the ability of the Maltese government and enforcement authorities to properly control and limit the spring hunting season in accordance with its derogation of the EU Birds Directive that allows spring hunting of turtle dove and quail.

BirdLife Malta says that it has witnessed widespread illegal hunting in the first week of the season and the number of hunters and amount of shooting are not compatible with a strictly enforced spring hunting season.

Read the full press release here.

From Wildlife Extra:

Maltese hunting and conservation official photographed shooting inside a bird sanctuary

Malta hunt ‘out of control’

April 2013. Edwin Vella, a high-ranking Malta Hunting and Conservation (Yes really – Ed.) Federation (FKNK) official, has been fined 1000 Euros after being photographed hunting illegally inside the Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary, only hours after another Maltese man, Chris Gauci, was convicted of the same offence.

Hunting season out of control

BirdLife Malta will be calling on the government to put an immediate end to the current spring hunting season, which it said was completely out of control, with bag limits and quotas not being respected or supervised and the police unable to cope with the number of hunters and scale of abuse.

Steve Micklewright, BirdLife Malta’s Executive Director, said, “The fact that an FKNK official has now been caught hunting illegally in a protected area demands that immediate action be taken to prevent the situation spiraling further out of control. We will demand that suspension of the hunting season is discussed at Tuesday’s Hunting Derogation Board meeting.”

BirdLife will also call on the FKNK to resign their place on the Hunting Derogation Monitoring Board because their position is no longer tenable in the light of this most recent incident. Mr Micklewright added, “An organization that includes people who flagrantly disregard the law among its officials can clearly not be trusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the conditions of the spring derogation are respected and abuses curtailed,” said Mr Micklewright.

Serious questions

BirdLife Malta Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara, said that the incident raised some serious questions about the sincerity and credibility of the FKNK’s statements that it will not tolerate any illegal hunting by its members, and the organisation’s self-purported ability to police its members’ activities during the hunting season.

“The FKNK claim to have marshals in the field supervising the hunting season, but we have not seen any. It is also high time the FKNK published records of the number and type of any hunting and trapping offences committed by their members and what action the FKNK has taken in each case,” said Mr Barbara.

As for the incident itself, BirdLife said that it clearly demonstrates the invaluable role of photographic and video evidence gathering by BirdLife staff and Spring Watch camp volunteers in detecting and securing prosecutions for illegal hunting offences. “Without the work done by our local staff and international volunteers, I have no doubt that the majority of illegal hunting offences would go unpunished,” said Mr Barbara.

Rather than supporting BirdLife Malta’s efforts to end illegal hunting, the FKNK has consistently called into question the authenticity of video and photographic evidence documenting illegal hunting offences in the Maltese countryside.

Commenting on evidence showing Chris Gauci and a second accused man, Carl Borg, hunting inside Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary, a moderator on the FKNK’s internet forum questioned whether photos and video of the two men hunting in Foresta 2000 Bird Sanctuary was genuine. “It would be interesting to know whether the two men accused are members of the FKNK, and if so, what action has been taken,” said Mr Barbara.

To find out how to report illegal hunting visit www.birdlifemalta.org.