Joe Sultana, Maltese environmentalist and ornithologist, dies aged 78

Outspoken and passionate defender of the Maltese countryside and natural heritage, Joe Sultana, passed away

Ornithologist Joe Sultana, 1939-2018
Ornithologist Joe Sultana, 1939-2018

The famed Maltese ornithologist Joe Sultana has died, at the age of 78.

Sultana, an outspoken and passionate defender of the Maltese countryside and natural heritage, had been afflicted by illness during the past months. He was the father of BirdLife CEO Mark Sultana.

Born in Xaghra to a family of hunters, Sultana was edcuated at the Gozo Lyceum and St Michael's Training College. After teaching in government shools until 1977, he was appointed managing warden at Villa Psaigon field study centre, environment office for conservation, environment manager for reserves, and in 1995 he became principal environment officer.

Since 1967, Sultana was secretary and later president up until 1987 of the Malta Ornithological Society, now BirdLife. Throughout his career, he was recognised as a foremost expert of avifauna.

He was also chairman of BirdLife International between 1985 and 1992, chairman of the Naturopa Centre for the Council of Eruope, and held various other posts in the international world of ornithological bodies and scientific consultative committees.

He published extensively on birding and ornithology, with his ‘Guide To The Birds of Malta’ in 1975, and more recently, ‘History of Ornithology in Malta’ - the first book of its kind to give a comprehensive account of the evolvement of bird study and ornithological literature in Malta.