Yesterday evening, officials from the Compliance and Enforcement Directorate of ERA conducted a joint operation with the Malta Police Force and successfully seized over 700 protected dead birds.
Preliminary investigations indicate that the majority of these birds have been illegally smuggled into Malta recently. The seizure came following weeks of joint investigations together with the Malta Police Force. Yesterday’s haul represents the largest haul of smuggled protected dead birds revealed in the last six years.
As a regulator on the environment, ERA enforces on matters related to the CITES Convention, or rather the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The latter is an international agreement between governments, aiming to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Raids were conducted at three residences and a farmhouse, all within the Safi and Kirkop localities. From the residences, Police assisted by ERA officials seized several stuffed birds. Likewise, from the farmhouse, about 660 dead birds found stored in freezers were seized after ERA officials expertly identified these. The haul consisted of several species of birds of prey such as Eagles; Falcons and Vultures, and other bird families such as Storks; Egrets; Spoonbills; Ibises and Flamingos which are also protected by international law, namely the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES).
It is believed that the majority of the birds, found already prepared to be stuffed for collection purposes, originated from Northern Africa region. The consignment’s value is estimated as being tens of thousands of Euros.
Three persons hailing from Kirkop, are assisting the Police in their investigations. The persons were all previously known to the authorities after they had already been investigated and successfully prosecuted for similar crimes in the past.