BirdLife Malta joins coastal clean-up in bid to protect endemic seabirds

BirdLife Malta participated in a clean-up in L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha, in a bid to protect endemic seabirds from rats by reducing the amount of rubbish in the area

More than 100 people volunteered to participate in the clean-up
More than 100 people volunteered to participate in the clean-up

BirdLife Malta participated in a clean-up organised by Zibel Malta in L-Irdum tal-Madonna, L-Ahrax tal-Mellieha on Sunday, in a bid to protect endemic seabirds from rats by reducing the amount of rubbish in the area.

L-Irdum tal-Madonna, a Natura 2000 sites – sites containing the most threatened habitats and species in Europe – is mainly protected because it holds the main Yelkouan Shearwater colony in the Maltese Islands.

BirdLife Malta set up the LIFE Project Arcipelagu Garnija with the aim of securing the Maltese Islands for the Yelkouan Shearwater (Garnija) species, that can only be found in the Central and Eastern Mediterranean region.

The Yelkouan Shearwater is a medium-sized seabird that rarely shears over waves. Malta’s population is estimated to be between 1,600 and 1,800 pairs, constituting approximately 10% of the global population. 

According to BirdLife Malta, 500 pairs of Yelkouan Shearwaters breed on the cliffs of L-Irdum tal-Madonna.

“BirdLife Malta has been working intensively in this colony for the past 10 years to improve the conservation status of this species, currently with the LIFE Arcipelagu Garnija project,” the NGO said.

It added that one of the major threats to these birds is rats preying on chicks and eggs, and that the organisation was taking steps to prevent this.

“During the breeding season, from February to July, a rat control programme takes place to reduce rat predation in the colony,” BirdLife Malta said, adding that the clean-up was aimed at collecting all rubbish left in the area, as this a big source of food that leads to a high rat population in the area.

More than 100 people volunteered to participate in the clean-up, with NGOs such as Fish4tomorrow, Sharklab, Friends of the Earth Malta, the Professional Diving Schools Association Malta, and hunting federation FKNK taking part.

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