FKNK condemns Ta’ Cenc shooting of Maltese Falcon

Hunters’ Federation unreservedly condemns ‘concerted effort’ to shoot peregrine falcon and culprits are brought to justice.

Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus brookei
Peregrine Falcon - Falco peregrinus brookei

The FKNK was reacting to a MaltaToday report which highlighted concerns by ornithologists that a Maltese Falcon reportedly breeding in Gozo was shot at by hunters on 10 July. The article reported how hunters on speedboats were sighted beneath the cliffs at Ta' Cenc shooting the falcon at least three times.

The incident was also condemned by BirdLife, who also said that the incident was witnessed by 120 of its members out on an evening boat trip at the time.

In a statement, the Hunters' Federation unreservedly condemned the attempt to shoot a peregrine falcon, "even more so since it appears to have been a concerted effort by more than one poacher."

"We hope that the fact that this incident was actually witnessed by 120 BirdLife Malta members will lead to the apprehension of the culprits, particularly if the registration number, size, colour and other details of the speedboat used were hopefully 'captured' by the binoculars and the cameras of so many BirdLife bird-watchers," the federation added.

It also expressed hopes that BirdLife Malta "is in a position to provide the required evidence of this and similar happenings to ensure successful court proceedings against the perpetrators."

"The action of these poachers is contemptible, and we hope that the police will be successful in rooting them out, and in prosecuting them successfully in court," the federation said.

Peregrine falcons are one of the rarest of breeding birds and the killing of this bird proves that illegal hunting is far from over. Reaching speeds of over 200mph, the falcon is also known as the fastest bird on earth. 

The ornithologist who originally informed MaltaToday of the incident also said that information from reliable sources indicates that the female peregrine belonging to the pair breeding close to Ta' Cenc was shot and killed around two months earlier from Wardija Point in Gozo. 

"They are now probably chasing the male. I think it's a joke when they say things have changed for the better just to comfort ourselves," the birdwatcher told MaltaToday. 

In its own statement following the poaching incident, Birdlife Malta condemned the act and said that 120 of its members were currently on an evening boat trip to watch rafting Cory's Shearwaters off Ta' Cenc when they were alerted by shots being fired from the cliffs.

Witnesses said that apart from the three gunmen on the speedboat, another two men were on the cliffs coordinating the incident - one of these was also armed with a shotgun.

BirdLife members reported the illegal hunting incident to the Armed Forces of Malta, who arrived with a patrol boat within five minutes.

The poachers fled the scene at great speed heading towards Xlendi as soon as the AFM vessel was seen approaching.

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