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Illegal bird hunting in the Maltese Islands: an international perspective

  • André F. Raine (a1), Mark Gauci (a2) and Nicholas Barbara (a2)

Illegal hunting is a widespread problem in the Maltese Islands. As well as having a significant impact on the islands' breeding birds, the illegal hunting of migratory birds has a wider, international dimension. To investigate the international impact of illegal hunting in Malta we considered the entire ring recovery database of the Valletta Bird Ringing Scheme, from the 1920s to the present. All records of birds that were ringed overseas and shot by hunters in Malta were analysed, comprising a total of 435 records of 84 species from 36 countries. The majority of these ring recoveries (91.7%) were from species listed as protected and non-huntable throughout the European Union, with a significant proportion listed as European Species of Conservation Concern. Birds of prey were particularly represented in the database, 78.6% of which were ringed as nestlings or juveniles, highlighting the impact of illegal hunting on this group of species in particular. Species targeted illegally by Maltese hunters originate from countries throughout Europe and Africa, particularly Finland, Sweden, Tunisia, Italy and Germany. For rare species or those with small breeding populations in affected countries, illegal hunting could therefore have a significant impact on the long-term persistence of European populations. Poaching of species such as the pallid harrier Circus macrourus and saker falcon Falco cherrug could have a global impact on their populations.

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  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
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