CABS offers €5,000 reward for information leading to Stork killers

Last surviving White Stork is presumed dead, say CABS after bid to trap bird for relocation to Germany fails

The German-based conservationists Campaign Against Bird Slaughter (CABS) are offering a €5,000 reward for new information that can lead to the identification and successful conviction of any person responsible for the killing storks that flew into Malta in a flock of 18, and since then have been either missing or shot down.

"The last survivor of a flock of 18 White Storks is presumed dead," CABS's wildlife crime officer Fiona Burrows said. "The bird arrived on Malta on the 10th of August together with 17 others of its kind, but soon after arriving poachers began shooting at the flock, killing all adult birds which were leading the flock on their way south."

In an effort to save the last remaining stork, individual CABS activists with permission from the Wild Birds Regulation Unit and the Maltese Ornis Committee, developed a plan to trap the bird and relocate it to Germany. A specialised bird trapper from Germany was brought to Malta and several large snare traps were installed at the dump in Maghtab where the bird was regularly observed.

This White Stork was found dead on 15 August. Photo: Alice Tribe, BirdLife Malta
This White Stork was found dead on 15 August. Photo: Alice Tribe, BirdLife Malta
Alleged poacher James Magri being accompanied to court by the police
Alleged poacher James Magri being accompanied to court by the police

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Unfortunately, the bird disappeared the day after the traps were installed. “It has not been seen since last Saturday morning and we fear the worst,” Burrows said adding that illegal taxidermy and collectors who pay several thousands of euros for a dead stork “are the driving forces behind the massacre observed in recent days.”

Burrows said that without the lead of the experienced adults the remaining juveniles were disoriented and did not manage to leave the island. “Every morning the remaining birds were seen heading towards the sea to continue their journey, but without an experienced leader they found themselves lost and decided to return to Malta,” Burrows said.

Although the police were able to arrest two hunters in connection with the first shootings, the flock continued to dwindle with a total of five storks confirmed shot within the first week after their arrival. “By mid last week only one bird was left,” Burrows, who monitored the flock together with members from BirdLife Malta, said.

CABS said anybody with relevant information can contact either CABS at [email protected] in strict confidence or the police.

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