A Jarring Note
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from The Malta Independent, December 21, 2001

Record fine for illegally importing protected birds

By Steve Chetcuti

A record fine was yesterday handed down to a Kirkop man found Guilty of importing 51 animal skins three years ago.

Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona fined Jesmond Grixti, 32, Lm 1,036 after he was found in possession of the bird skins at Malta International Airport on 9 February 1998.

Grixti had just returned from a hunting trip with five other men in Egypt. The bird skins all came from protected species and included a barbary falcon, an endangered bird.

He was accused of breaching regulations which fall under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (Cites).

The accused had tried to import the bird skins stuffed in a massive teddy bear but customs officials became suspicious and passed the soft toy through the x-ray machine.

The officials noticed that the stuffing in the toy was not uniform and further checks revealed the dead birds, which had been wrapped in carbon paper to try and avoid x-ray detection.

The dead birds included herons, egrets, white storks, birds of pray, owls, kingfishers and bee eaters. The customs officials also carried out a search in Grixti's bag and found a mongoose, an endangered mammal.

Investigations were headed by police inspectors Walter Spiteri and Alex Miruzzi, customs officers and officials from the Environment Protection Department.

Grixti was one of 24 people who were yesterday found Guilty of breaching hunting and trapping regulations. The other 23 were fined Lm 1,160 between them.


Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001