Illegal Bird Imports
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From the Malta Independent, August 04, 2001

Investigation launched into illegal bird import ring

Investigations have been launched into the import of a considerable number of protected birds over the past weeks.

Police sources told The Malta Independent that a ring of people were understood to be involved with the illegal import of birds shot in African countries. Most of the birds are protected by law.

The sources said investigations began around three weeks ago but difficulties were encountered. Police said up to 300 birds were imported illegally.

Recently, 100 protected birds which had just been imported from Yemen were discovered by the authorities. And another bag, containing other dead birds, was abandoned on the conveyor belt at the Malta International Airport after the people trying to bring it in realised that checks were being carried out by customs officials.

Police in Malta are working with authorities in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen as Arabs are also thought to be involved in bringing the birds into the country.

Meanwhile, sources close to the hunting community said around 800 birds were brought into the island between two weeks and a week ago.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the hunting spree in Egypt as a massacre. He said the birds included 20 short tooth eagles, four vultures, eight eagle owls and six bonelli's eagles.

The source told The Malta Independent that the birds were imported into Malta in separate bags. The hunters, he said, did not bring the birds in at once but in different batches.

The estimated value of the birds was Lm10,000, he said, but the figure could be even higher.

Administrative Law Enforcement officers, led by police inspector Alex Miruzzi, are investigating.


Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001