|SOURCE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/worldonthemove/reports via GoogleImages|
Quick post but thought I'd flag this link to an interesting programme put out on Radio 4 earlier today about the ongoing illegal hunting of birds on Malta:
I gave it a listen in my lunch break and a couple of things stood out for me. It was interesting to hear the interviews with Joe Perici Calascione president of FKNK (Federation of Hunting and Conservation Malta), his "'hunting buddy', Frank" and the guy from the EU Commission (sorry I can't remember the name) As expected, the former make a pretty determined (pathetic) defence on the practice of bird slaughter that over 10,000 FKNK members are involved in. "A healthy walk in the morning, before a day in the office" was how one of them described their hunting exploits, while I don't think 'Frank' did himself (and the FKNK) any favours by claiming that the reason there were fewer Turtle Doves seen on Malta now than 50 years ago was because "they changed the (migration) routes". I'd like to believe it was as simple as that too. Someone then rattled off the party line about how hunting was a hobby that actually preserved species and by maintaining the natural landscape hunters helped enhance biodiversity. That old nugget. Perhaps there is an element of truth buried in this argument, although in this context I think it's hardly used with conviction.
Central to the program was the mention of breaches in the terms of Malta's EU hunting Derogation - highlighted by BirdLife Malta figures showing countless incidences of illegal spring hunting. For example on the first day of the spring 2011 season, apparently 4 birds were reported shot by FKNK (they are legally required to do so) yet BirdLife recorded something like 600+ shots fired that day. As the reporter says, where did the other 596 shots end up? Did they really all miss? It is for this reason that conservation groups like BirdLife Malta and CABS (Committee Against Bird Slaughter) continue to send volunteers into the field to monitor the hunting. The presence of these groups clearly riles many hunters who mock and resent them for "playing policeman". The guy from FKNK, when shown the bodies of two illegally killed Cuckoos, inexplicably even claimed that he believed BirdLife Malta capable of shooting the birds themselves to 'frame' the hunters. It's a ludicrous statement but one that demonstrates the level of ill-feeling and distrust.
Bar a stern, defensive, bullet point emailed response to some questions posed by the reporter, the Maltese government were conspicuous by their absence on the program. And this seems to be the issue which defines the tragedy unfolding year on year. Some positive steps have been made but an otherwise softly softly approach, taken for fear of alienating a powerful lobby group, not to mention potential voters, surely just succeeds in drawing out an issue that desperately needs resolving. The presenter suggested that if there is hope, maybe it lies outside of government, with groups like FKNK, BirdLife and CABS working in partnership. It's a nice thought but one I can't imagine will be easily achieved. Anyway, good programme, worth a listen, feel free to put any thoughts below.