The Malta Independent, 26. January 2002
Friends of a feather flock together
Birdlife Malta on Thursday celebrated its 40th anniversary in what has been a particularly high profile week for the organisation.
The NGO has been trying to protect bird populations in Malta for the past four decades, but it faces an uphill struggle, as was evident last Sunday when illegal hunters shot and killed eight mute swans.
Speaking to The Malta Independent, BirdLife president Joseph Mangion agreed that it had not been an auspicious week for birdlife in Malta.
"It isn't the best week unfortunately, but at least it gives us the drive to go on. To mark our 40th anniversary we have launched a book - Wildlife of the Maltese Islands. This has been issued in conjunction with Nature Trust who will also celebrate their 40th anniversary this year," he said.
Mr Mangion explained that the NGO was able to trace six of the seven original founder members of BirdLife Malta, four of whom were present at last night's ceremony. The organisation now has over 3,000 members.
"In fact following this issue of the swans, we are launching a campaign", said Mr Mangion. "Of course we always have an ongoing campaign against illegal hunting. For us, something like that swan killing is a normal occurrence. It is just that this happened in front of many people. Also the swan is a large bird. But this happens regularly. It happens in September and in Spring when birds are migrating."
However the BirdLife president was not too downcast and said that the Maltese attitude to birds has developed in the past 40 years: "Definitely there has been a big change. The very fact that we have been able to get two nature reserves going proves this. From this year both will be open to secondary schools. And I think more and more people are aware of the problem of illegal hunting."
President Guido de Marco was also present at the celebration on Thursday night and he praised the organisation for its work over the years.