Anybody listening to the news last night might have heard that the British naturalist Chris Packham was detained by Maltese police, on charges brought against him by the Maltese hunting lobby. Here are the two final instalments – numbers 5 and 7, number 6 being a mere statement to say that he had been detained by Maltese police and therefore there is no need to see it.
Instalment five shows a very theatening and sinister confrontation with Maltese hunters who actually prevent him entering an area of public land. It’s extremely disturbing to think that the hunting fraternity on Malta, comprising less than 1% of the Maltese population, can be having such a detrimental effect on the lives of the other 99% of the population that they cannot even enter their own national lands without fear of intimidation, especially considering that Malta is a very recent member of the European Union and the Eurozone and therefore should have been properly vetted before being allowed membership. Clearly this does not seem to have happened. It’s a shame too.
But many Maltese people are genuine heroes and Packham takes the trouble to make this point and show you who these people are. Ironically, Malta is actually a place I liked so much I visited it twice in two years because of the remarkable landscape, history, archaeology and romance. Had I know our migratory wildlife was been massacred there to such an extent I might never have gone there even once, although I am glad I did. However, listen to what the Pacman has to say and make up your own minds, and if you are Irish, then ask the canvassers on your doorstep about this issue. The EU HQ should be more than a well-paid job for Irish politicians.
Tonight’s bulletin from Malta by Chris Packham shows that what he has witnessed has taken its toll on the great naturalist. You can only see so much senseless killing and maiming of any creatures before you just can’t take anymore. How the volunteers of Birdlife Malta manage to continue their work in the face of such adversity and thuggery is beyond me. The inability to feel empathy is the hallmark of the sociopath/psychopath, as is egotism and the perverted sense of power which the thrill-kill poachers of Malta are exhibiting. Why are people with these psychological tendencies allowed by Malta to possess firearms? This might seem a rhethorical question but it’s actually a legal one. The migrant birds that fly across Malta nest in Europe and are therefore definitely part of the flora and fauna of Europe. They are also, therefore, definitely the heritage of those countries in which they roost. So a question immediately raises its head: what value of damages does Malta owe each country in Europe whose heritage it is permitting by inaction, to be destroyed? This year I have seen only five swallows and it’s almost April – how many of the swallows that nest in Wicklow have been killed by Maltese poachers due to the failure of the Maltese government and administration to enforce the law? It’s an important question, and it almost certainly will have to be answered in the very near future. Look at the amount of work one veterinarian in Malta has to deal with and already you will find sums beginning to add up:
The arrival of the spring migrant birds is always an exciting time. Not only do swallows swifts and house martins arrive but so too do much rarer birds, such as cuckoos and occasionally bitterns and incredible Montagu’s harriers along the Wicklow coast. But in many cases every year those numbers are getting smaller and smaller. There are three main flyways into Europe from Africa by which the birds travel, and these are across the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain, across the Holy Land along the Great Rift Valley, and in the very centre of the Mediterranean they fly over the island of Malta. And, despite the fact that it is illegal, the 10,500+ holders of hunting licences on the island of Malta simply blow them out of the skies for sport. They shoot everything that flies, mostly for nothing more than kicks, not even collecting the bodies. Boredom, it seems, is the main cause. I don’t know any hunters anywhere who would even consider this hunting. As it’s illegal, it’s actually poaching.
But for reasons known only to the Maltese themselves (and maybe not even) the senseless and depraved massacre of our birds continues. The British naturalist Chris Packham is on Malta right at this moment making and broadcasting as series of short bulletins on YouTube every night and I am here linking these broadcasts because this is our heritage which is being destroyed by a small group of people who ought to consider themselves privileged, but instead simply offer mindless destruction. Best of luck with your mission, Chris.
This first bulletin went out on the evening of Monday 21 April.