From The Malta Independent November 07, 2001
Hunters are scaring away tourists
I have been reading The Malta Independent on-line for some time and recently I read an interesting piece about hunting in
Malta (TMID 30 October). The reactions from organised hunters to criticism from a German professor made me upset.
is beyond belief that a responsible national organisation can stand up and defend criminal elements, yet the Federation for
Hunting and Conservation Malta (FKNK) stands up and defends the poachers.
One must ask why. FKNK secretary Lino
Farrugia condemned the German professor for describing the hunting in Malta as barbaric.
The hunting, or rather slaughter,
of birds in Malta causes disgust everywhere outside Malta. It is estimated that more than 30,000 raptors are killed each year
in Malta - raptors that are (properly) protected almost everywhere else.
The majority of these birds are not Maltese
but pass through Malta on their spring and autumn migration. These raptors are only a small percentage of the three million
migrating birds that are shot or trapped in Malta every year.
Am I against all hunting? No. But you cannot just shoot
every bird that passes in front of your gun. You should only shoot birds for you and your family to eat. You should not shoot
birds during spring migration or in the breeding season. You should only shoot species with populations that can absorb the
losses, locally or on a wider scale. You should not shoot endangered species or species protected elsewhere along their migration
Unfortunately, the German professor is correct in his criticism. Birds are slaughtered in Malta. Malta has
about 20,000 hunters in a population of less than 400,000 inhabitants, which is a high rate. With semi- automatic shotguns
and traps they easily shoot three million birds each year. This is horrifying!
One of Malta's real assets is tourism.
Most tourists come to enjoy the sun and to visit the historic sites. Malta's position in the Mediterranean could attract large
numbers of eco-tourists during spring and autumn. Great economical advantages are being wasted because the hunting scares
away the potential tourists.
Of course, illegal hunting takes place in other countries. In most countries though,
illegal bird slaughter is carried out by old men who haven't been able to adapt to modern life and modern thinking. In 10
to 20 years they will be dead or be too old to hunt. It's therefore alarming to see young Maltese poachers with their four-wheel-drive
vehicles and their shining, expensive semi-automatic shotguns.
When I, and many others, criticise the hunting in
Malta it is not because we are against the Maltese people. I would rather say that the poachers are acting against the Maltese
people; and against the Maltese economy as well.
Lars G. R. Nilsson