This blog is from the RSPB’s Bugs, Birds and Beasts in the East blog page
Blog by Tara Proud, RSPB Species Recovery Officer & Operation Turtle Dove Project Manager
Each spring thousands of migrant birds cross Malta on their way to breeding grounds in Europe, and some of them even choose the UK as their summer home. In Malta, hunting birds is a cultural tradition, and although there are laws in place to govern when shooting can be carried out, a huge amount of protected birds are illegally killed.
Our partners at BirdLife Malta are campaigning and working on the ground to stop illegal hunters who flout the rules and continue to kill protected birds.
One of the most common birds targeted by hunters is the turtle dove, a species on the verge of extinction in the UK, and with a group of conservation bodies, including the RSPB, pulling out all the stops to save it.
For more on this story, have a look at this article on BBC Nature to see some images from Malta, but be warned, some of them are quite graphic and pretty heartbreaking too.
Sadly, Malta is just one of many countries across the Europe where species such as turtle doves are sought after quarry species for hunters, other include Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, and Portugal.