The confirmed body count of eagles shot down by hunters in Malta and Gozo reached 12 in the last few days, after two more of these rare and highly protected birds of prey were killed in front of watching BirdLife Malta volunteers.
Despite the presence of six BirdLife Malta teams and as many ALE (Maltese Environment Police) units in the Buskett area this morning at least one Booted eagle was shot down inside Buskett Gardens as it left its roost this morning. Several others, including Short-toed and Booted eagles, were shot at and many more were seen carrying injuries after last night’s shooting spree by hunters in Dingli, Buskett, Girgenti, Siġġiewi and Zebbuġ.
This morning’s second confirmed victim was a Short-toed eagle shot down in Gozo.
Massacre of eagles
The shootings follow what can only be described as a massacre the day before, after more than 50 eagles were seen by birdwatchers who were counting passing migrating birds in their regular watch-point above the wooded valley of Buskett.
At least 10 eagles are known to have been shot down and many more targeted by dozens of hunters in locations around Buskett. Several as yet unconfirmed reports were also received from members of public who saw eagles and other large birds of prey being shot at and shot down.
Government turning a blind eye?
BirdLife Malta’s Conservation Manager, Nicholas Barbara, described the events as a tragic wake-up call: “We haven’t seen the wanton slaughter of this many protected birds by this many hunters in Malta for a long time.
It is difficult to see this as anything other than a complete catastrophe and the descriptions of the scale of killing we have seen in the last 24 hours as an “isolated incident” and the scenario that only a few rogue bad apples are responsible for killing protected birds is not consistent with reality.”