Spring Watch Malta 2012
April 15th – April 30th
What is Spring Watch Malta about?
Spring Watch Malta is a conservation camp which forms an integral part of BirdLife Malta’s fight against illegal spring hunting. This camp is organised during the peak spring migration period in Malta and thus the period with the highest expected hunting intensity.
BirdLife Malta organises two such camps each year – one in autumn called Raptor Camp and the other in Spring called Spring Watch.
To view a video about our camps, using footage from Raptor Camp 2011 then click here.
When is Spring Watch 12 going to be held?
April 15th to April 30th, 2012
Why is Spring Watch 2012 Important?
Spring is almost upon us, and once again birds returning to breed in Europe passing over Malta will risk persecution from illegal hunters and trappers.
The European Court of Justice found Malta guilty for opening a spring hunting season in 2004,5,6,7. The government did not open a season in 2008,9 while the case was ongoing, and they turned out to be two fantastic years for Malta’s breeding birds. However following the ruling in September 2009, Malta ignored the guilty verdict, opened a week long spring hunting season and adopted legislation permitting longer future seasons with higher bag counts.
The Commission renewed legal action against Malta over this legislation, however Malta’s Prime Minister stated that Malta is “prepared to go all the way” on spring hunting. The goverment proceeded to open a two week hunting season in 2010 for which 5,462 hunters applied for a licence and were allowed to kill 9000 Turtle Dove and 2,500 Quail. Spring Watch teams uncovered widespread illegalities during this period including the shooting of protected birds, and a gross misreporting by hunters of the amount of turtle dove and quail shot, as a result of poor enforcement from the authorities at strictly supervising a spring hunting derogation.
With action from the European Commission still awaited over the spring hunting season in 2010, current legislation still allows for another spring hunting season in April 2012. If this is the case, then volunteers will be needed to demonstrate the impact of another spring hunting season by recording the extent of hunting in spring, while at the same time deterring illegal hunters from targeting protected species. It is vital that BirdLife Malta maintains a strong presence in the countryside to deter illegal hunters from breaking the law, as well as record data on migratory species.
Spring Watch 2012 will be crucial in the protection of a wide range of migratory species (including birds of prey, herons, bee-eaters, golden orioles etc.) which use Malta as a critical resting and feeding stop-over on their way back to European breeding grounds.
For more information and how to book your place please visit our Spring Watch 2012 page.
To read more about BirdLife Malta visit our website at www.birdlifemalta.org, join our Facebook group or follow us on Twitter.