BirdLife Malta is calling for volunteers to join our Spring Watch conservation camp this April.
What is Spring Watch Malta about?
Spring Watch Malta is a conservation camp that 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 with the aim of curtailing illegal hunting activity and collecting data on bird migration. This is no relaxed holiday, but a serious conservation effort!
Malta and migration
Malta is situated on one of the main migratory flyways Europe’s birds use to reach their breeding grounds in mainland Europe. 398 bird species have been recorded over the islands of which around 170 occur annually. In the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta serves as an important resting spot for tired raptors and other bird species – however many birds find persecution from illegal hunters and trappers instead of shelter.
Migration and the spring hunting problem
Spring is the season Europe’s birds return from their wintering grounds to breed and this is why spring hunting is forbidden throughout the EU under the Birds Directive.
After joining the EU in 2004, Malta continued to permit spring hunting. Several warnings by the Commission that this could result in legal action were ignored, and Malta was therefore taken to the European Court of Justice and found guilty of opening a spring hunting season in 2004,5,6,7. No season was opened in 2008,9 and they were two fantastic years for Malta’s breeding birds.
However, in 2010 Malta opened a one week spring hunting season and adopted legislation making longer future seasons with larger bag counts possible. The Commission last October renewed legal action against Malta over the spring hunt, to which Malta’s Prime Minister reacted by stating that Malta is ‘prepared to go all the way’ for spring hunting – even if this means the country must pay fines.
The hunting lobby is already vocal in their demands for a 2011 spring hunting season. Season dates have yet to be announced.
BirdLife Malta intends to monitor and document the extent and impact of spring hunting through Spring Watch - an important part of the campaign against this unsustainable and illegal practice.
What does the camp consist of?
Illegal hunting surveillance and bird migration monitoring are the two main elements forming the camp. Every day our teams leave their hotel early in the morning, heading out into the countryside to keep watch over birds leaving the islands for Europe. This watch normally lasts a few hours, after which teams return to the hotel. In the afternoon teams again head out into the countryside to watch over birds coming to the islands to rest. This watch normally lasts until dusk.
On exceptional migration days watches may last longer than usual, and when rare birds visit the islands a 24 hr watch may be organized to protect these prized birds from illegal hunters.
How long does the camp last?
The camp starts on the 10th April and lasts for 2 weeks ending on the 24th April. Volunteers may come for one or two weeks depending on their availability and the flight schedule.
Join Malta Spring Watch and help us in our aim to stop the unsustainable and illegal hunting of protected migratory birds.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.birdlifemalta.org/Content...atch2011/1100/ for more information.
For more info about Birdlife Malta visit – www.birdlifemalta.org or join our Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/event.php?ei...id=46653178878