Six men and a woman are under investigation after hundreds of dead protected birds were found following coordinated raids by Administrative Law Enforcement Police together with officials from the Environmental and Resources Authority (ERA) in six places in Kirkop, Gudja and a farm in Safi. TVM is informed that formal legal charges are to be made against four of the men.
In all over 700 dead protected birds were found and confiscated in what ERA is considering to be the largest find of protected birds over the last six years. It has been stated that the value of the imported birds exceeds scores of thousands of euro.
The Authority said among the birds found in freezers ready to be sold to be stuffed there are pelicans, flamingos, storks, falcons, eagles, egrets and spoonbills.
Mario Schembri, ERA’s Enforcement Director, told TVM that from investigations it has been established the birds were imported from The Sudan and Egypt.
Schembri said the birds are the result of organised hunting tours outside Malta and those that organise such tours have seen to it the birds are brought to Malta to be stuffed. The birds are protected species both in Malta and where their hunting took place whilst their import is also illegal.
From information obtained by TVM, the raids took place on Thursday evening and included a house and garage in Gudja, three residences in Kirkop and on a farm at Safi. The largest find was that at the Safi farm where over 300 birds were found and some were already being stuffed at the time the Police raid took place.
Sources that spoke to TVM said the Police have been following the movements of hunting tour organisers to The Sudan and Egypt since last January. The tours were organised between October of last year and April of this year. It is understood that those detained under arrest are all related. ERA said that three persons from Kirkop have already been investigated and arraigned in Court for similar offences in the past.
It is further understood the birds were brought to Malta earlier this week. It is not being excluded the illegal import took place through marine vessels.