PROACT MALTA BULLETINS 2001
Tourism hurt
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ACTION TODAY

from The Malta Independent, December 10, 2001

Maltese hunting damaging tourism

I have been following the ongoing debate in your newspaper about the publication of anti-hunting material through the European Union press, which was triggered by the publication of informative material in Germany on the poaching of wild birds by the Heinz Sielmann Foundation, with great interest.

Whereas some items presented in the information material may be justly criticised, I would be pleased to learn about your comments on the following points:

It is true that birds migrating over the globe are not of any specific nationality. As much as they are 'our' (German) birds, they are certainly also 'your' (Maltese) birds during their stopover on your island. I would therefore suggest speaking of a 'common (European) nature heritage'.

However, as a visitor to your island in early autumn this year, I was on more than one particular occasion very surprised to see how a common nature heritage is being taken care of, and how the term conservation is being put into practice by some Maltese hunters.

It would be very interesting for me to know what you expect foreigners to think and feel when, while on a cultural visit to your country, they witness marsh harriers, short toed eagles, honey buzzards and other protected species being gunned out of the sky during their walks in the countryside.

The honey buzzard we found on such an occasion in the south of your island was still alive, suffering and maimed by shots. On yet another occasion we were treated to the sight of two marsh harriers being shot down right in front of our noses at Dingli Cliffs, or bee eaters, swifts and swallows used for target-shooting practice.

Some people in our tourist group would have considered revisiting your island for a short beach holiday, but will most probably refrain from doing so since they are sick of being treated to the sight of a common nature heritage being gunned out of the sky by people that quite obviously not only couldn't care less about the conservation of a common nature heritage for future generations, but that are also bluntly disrespectful of their co-nationals and the economy of their country which they are conspicuously harming by deterring tourists.

For tourists that visit your country during the bird migration periods in spring and autumn, it is a wonderful sight to see flocks of birds of prey moving in from the sea to rest on your island before continuing their migration. Maltese hunters that are disrespecting the law are obviously not aware of the fact that through their actions they are depriving the tourism sector of the chance of offering an attractive aspect of eco-tourism.

Making a point of birds not always using the same routes when migrating from and back to their breeding grounds in central and northern Europe is a highly unacceptable justification for the fact that annually a very high number of birds are being 'removed' from the circle of nature - be they trapped or gunned down.

Anybody acquainted with the hunting scene on your island will surely remember last year's story of the osprey that got gunned down in public from a telegraph pole during heavy traffic.

The letters to the editor coming from your own Maltese people, and not from somebody of foreign nationality, with regard to this particular incident made very interesting reading.

To speak of an anti-hunting plot directed at your country and launched through European Union member states is definitely an exaggeration. Anybody that goes to France or Greece will notice that the problem of poaching wild birds and the putting into practice of tougher law enforcement are permanent topics of discussion - even in some of our EU member states.

In your report it says that the German Professor is using emotionally-charged adjectives like 'brutal behaviour', 'barbaric', 'detestable', 'shocking', etc.

I would therefore kindly appreciate it if somebody gave me a selection of adjectives suitable for the above-described 'conservation efforts' of some hunters during my visit to the Maltese archipelago.

Tina Hahl


GERMANY

GIVE ME ANOTHER WORD FOR 'CONSERVATION' PLEASE!

Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001