Malta Bulletins 2001


Letter Campaign | Arrogant Intervention? | Nature Trust supports EU | Arrests for Import of Bird Skins | Malta Tourist Action | Temple Vandals are Terrorists | Concessions on Environment? | Temples, Birds and Tourists | Lucky Flamingo! | A Sad Story | Ruined Reputation | Italian Pressure | BirdLife Appeal | An Interesting Idea? | Bird-watch | 'Friends of Hunting' Confer | The Traitor | It Wasn't Me! | Trashing Brochures | Don't Boycott Us! | Empire Strikes Back! | Emphasise the Positive | Referendum on Hunting? | Complacency or Ignorance? | Complacency or Ignorance? | Futile Campaign? | Boycotting Malta | No Birds? | Birdtours shoots back | Pariah of Europe | Bird-brained (?) Hunters | Cruel Subculture | Compassion and Humanity | Animal Rights | Pillars of Hercules | Cowardly Behaviour | Illegal Bird Imports | !RAPTOR CAMP! | Sad Ramblers | NOT Forgotten | More Witnesses | Questions!?! | Positive Response | Osprey Hunt | Protest to PM | Sielmann Attack | Hunters Warnings | Tourists scared off? | Bird Imports | Rationing? | Habitat Conservation | Barbaric Behaviour | Press Censorship? | Foreign Advice | Heavy Fine | Hunters' Dictatorship | Lest We Forget | The Global Picture | Tourism hurt | Lino's Birds | Terrorism ... | ... and Patriotism | Turned Off | Christmas comes | Reflections | A Jarring Note | Christmas Goose | Swan Song | Callous Shooting I | Callous Shooting II | Callous Shooting III | Callous Shooting IV | Callous Shooting V | Vote-hunting | What a waste | Well said! | A Regular Toll | Harsh Penalty! | Bailed Out | No Deterrent | Rare(r) Geese | BNW | Malta's Shame | Negative Image | Editorial | Sanctuary | 40 Years BirdLife Malta | Wake Up! | NO! Minister | Danish National Bird | Holy reticence | Damning Evidence I | Damning Evidence II | Barbaric Killing | Where were the ALE?
Callous Shooting II


from The Scotsman, January 22, 2002

Shocked Malta in uproar over hunters' slaughter of swans

By Tim Cornwell Deputy Foreign Editor

A CROWD of onlookers had gathered to watch a rare sight in Malta's St Thomas's Bay: about ten large mute swans, gliding gracefully through the water. Until, that is, three hunters on a speedboat roared through the water and blasted the birds with shotguns, killing all but two.

Hunting, and particularly bird hunting, is a passionate pastime in Malta. Hunters on one of its trio of islands, Gozo, shot dead the last pair of Maltese falcons in 1982, it is said.

However, the "Swan Lake massacre", with the birds mown down under the noses of tourists and children, made for shocked headlines in all four of the islands daily newspapers yesterday.

"There has been an incredible outcry," said Vanessa MacDonald, news editor of the Times of Malta. "This was so public it was quite shocking."

Three men in the speedboat, ignoring shouts from the shore, first shot at the birds in the water, then downed the rest on the wing. "At first we thought someone was drowning because we heard screams," said one British woman tourist. "But then we learned the truth."

The issue of bird hunting in Malta resonates with ornithologists well beyond the Mediterranean islands. Monitoring groups estimate that as many as three million birds are shot or trapped each year, most of them migrating between Europe and North Africa, driving down populations on the two continents. Songbirds are trapped and sold at market, while larger birds of prey or rare species are stuffed for collectors.

However, hunting is part of the island's culture, it is said, with tens of thousands of people as registered gun-owners and hunters in a nation of just 400,000. One local objection to Malta's planned accession to the EU is that European directives could limit the sport. Hunters' groups insist that only a tiny minority shoot endangered birds, but wildlife groups say the toll is high.

Mute swans, while common in northern Europe, are rare visitors to Malta.

The three men were arrested as they left their boat, having dumped the swans' bodies in the water as they were tracked by a police helicopter and boat.

They were to be charged today with shooting at protected birds, with shooting during a Sunday afternoon when hunting is not permitted and with hunting close to shore.

"They should execute them in public," said one mother, who had been enjoying a Sunday stroll with her daughter.


Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001