Photo by Chris Cachia Zammit
Hunting in Malta has come under heavy fire after the illegal events which took place as regards the famous flamingo case and countless illegal shootings on protected species, and now with the increase of stricter rules one asks, in reality what place does hunting have in this day and age?
On one of the two highly opposing sides we have those who concur that animal wellbeing is of the utmost importance, clearly stating that animals are to be heavily protected, a sort of live and let live argumentation. The reasoning from the behalf of those in favour of hunting is that it is a hobby and a noble sport which was inherited by their predecessors and its practice should prevail.
Recent episodes have led us to the belief that very rare species such as a flamingo or any other endangered ones are trying their luck in the devil’s playground whilst visiting the island. The reputation of Malta being a country in which such species come in but never come out could be at its inception, especially if certain occurrences were to be replicated in the near future. Example of such occurrences is the believed attempt of another flamingo killing, which proved unsuccessful.
This issue is no longer a local matter taking into account that Malta has received international media exposure back in April, when BBC emphasised illegal hunting within the country and presented photographic images of birds who have been the victims of hunting abuse.
Other quarrels are to be expected after the recent illegal shootings which Birdlife has protested vigorously against, and the apprehension of suspects. The basis is set for further confrontations considering that we have anti-hunting activists in the form of Birdlife Malta and on the other hand those deeply passionate about this activity, the FKNK hunters’ federation to name one.
Kaċċaturi San Ubertu, a hunters’ society has called forth the emerging of a new association, one which is known for sharing worthier scientific research in terms of ornithology.
In a situation where compromise between the ideals of the two lobby groups seems impossible, it is difficult to imagine the issue being resolved anytime soon; although some efforts can be pointed out, such as the FKNK giving a stern warning to hunters who break the legal regulations, whilst also encouraging hunters to report other fellow hunters who are breaching the law.
On the social media sphere things are already in motion for future debates, with the group “Referendum on Hunting and Trapping in Malta” having over 3000 Likes, another Facebook page with over a thousand Likes calls for the abolition of hunting in Malta during the spring period, clearly indicating that a substantial amount of the Maltese want an imminent change. Apart from liking pages people have also been invited to sign an online petition to call for a referendum.
Considering all the debates and controversies which have arisen in the last few weeks, should the political parties intervene? Changes in current regulations are to be expected and only time will tell as to whether an ever looming referendum shall take place.