From The Malta Independent July 05, 2001
An anti-conservation pariah of Europe
Ten years ago I visited Malta for a walking holiday. At that time I witnessed caged birds of wild origin that were being offered
for sale. As a keen birdwatcher and conservationist, I found the whole spectacle disturbing. However, this was not the only
aspect of the holiday that I found disappointing. One day I witnessed a group of three young (obviously untrained in rudimentary
firearm safety) hunters who were shooting at everything and anything that moved nearby.
For me this had the effect
of making me feel both unsafe and at risk of firearm injury and at the same time disgusted with hunters who shot birds and
did not even check that the birds were dead, or even collect them as food or trophy.
In the intervening years I
have encouraged friends and acquaintances not to visit Malta and Gozo by informing them of the carnage carried out by hunters
in the name of sport. I take a great deal of pride in my level of success. I am not against gun-sports, but there are much
better alternatives available, such as competitive target and clay pigeon shooting where hunters could demonstrate their skills.
I know that some of the British and American birdwatching magazines have recently run articles about the activities of hunters
There are now also a number of Web sites on the Internet that are also drawing international attention
to the plight of wild birds and migratory wild birds that pass over Malta. The net effect is to make Malta into an anti-conservation
pariah of Europe.
When compared on economic grounds, hunting vs tourism, the numbers of jobs and the level of income
from hunting pales into insignificance when compared to tourism.
I fail to understand how Malta can continue to
throw away year-round opportunities for tourism to maintain what is after all a barbaric and disgusting annual event.