Jail for hunter, 24, who killed flamingos at Qawra Point

Hunter caught killing four Greater Flamingos gets jail sentence and life ban on hunting licence – massacre took place in 2021 at Qawra Point

Four Greater Flamingos were shot down at Qawra Point in 2021
Four Greater Flamingos were shot down at Qawra Point in 2021

A 24-year-old hunter from Gzira has been sentenced to imprisonment for a year after a court found him guilty of killing four flamingos in Qawra last year.

The accused, Miguel Zammit, was disqualified from holding a hunting licence.

Zammit had been arrested after an eyewitness saw four flamingos being shot out of the sky. He had initially denied shooting the protected birds, pleading not guilty to charges and requesting bail. A previous bail request was refused, with the court noting a “clear case of poaching and that the accused could not have shot at the protected birds in error”.

Miguel Zammit
Miguel Zammit

The court heard the testimony of a birdwatcher who had been in the area when the incident occurred, who had observed the accused on the islet off Qawra Point shortly before hearing the gunshots.

The eyewitness saw the four protected birds fall from the sky and reported the incident to both the police and Birdlife. The man’s shotgun, ammunition were retrieved from the scene.

The police recovered three of the shot flamingos, dead, from the sea in Qawra Point. Another dead flamingo was found on land.

In a statement, BirdLife Malta said the hunter who would suffer revocation of his hunting licence for life, apart from being permanently disqualified from holding any firearm licence.

“This means that he will not be able to hunt anymore, and neither will he be allowed to have any firearms in his possession,” BirdLife said.

“This sentence is the result of very well-documented evidence by the birdwatcher himself and the BirdLife Malta official along with the efficient work of the police who arrived on site in a very short time. Efforts by the Armed Forces to retrieve the bird carcasses were also instrumental, along with the well-handled prosecution.”

While the culprit is expected to appeal the jail sentence, BirdLife praised the Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) of the Police Force and other assisting authorities such as ERA and AFM, saying this resulat should act as a deterrent for such incidents.

“Such a sentence should entice Government to actively seek to resource the above-mentioned entities so that illegalities of the kind are tackled efficiently from the field to the court room. Only then would the deterring effect bring about a change in the current situation with the illegal killing of wild birds.

“Such actions would also contrast the inefficacy of hunting organisations at disciplining their members, something which so far remains a lip service for public relations purposes.”