Illegal bird killing in Malta

Migration is one of the most amazing stories from nature. Every year, hundreds of species of birds make astonishing journeys from one part of the world to another and back again. And some end up in the UK, including swallows.

From the cape of South Africa swallows fly north the length of Africa, averaging 200 miles every day. Most pass over the Namib and Kalahari deserts to the Gulf of Guinea on Africa’s western coast, eating insects on the wing.

Then comes the difficult journey across the Sahara. Buffeted by sandstorms and with few insects to sustain them, they struggle to get to the other side of this vast desert.

Once across, they follow three main ‘flyways’ over the glistening expanse of the Mediterranean sea to southern Europe and eventually, after 7,000 miles, to the place where they were born. Often to the same village. The same barn. The same nest as in previous years.

A truly remarkable feat.

swallow180_tcm9-174734Unfortunately, some swallows never make it that far. Their route takes them to the coastline of a small island – Malta – where they stop, feed, rest…and are shot. Just for the sheer pleasure of it.

Last September, volunteers from BirdLife Malta and another bird conservation group found the remains of over 200 birds hidden in an area of the Mizieb woodland, which is used as hunting grounds.

The bodies, which ranged from freshly killed marsh harriers to bones that appeared to be several months (maybe years) old, were located in stashes under rocks, in crevices and under rubbish. The remains also included honey-buzzards and hoopoes.

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