Monday, October 19, 2015

Where have the flamingos gone?

Last November I wrote an article about a pair of immature flamingos that were released at the Ghadira Nature Reserve in early September. The two birds landed in Malta because they were too weak to continue with their journey south with the rest of the flock. They were picked up by BirdLife Malta volunteers and released in the reserve.

The two flamingos were doing very well. They spent most of the time walking with their head close to the water feeding. They were never far apart from each other and it was easy to imagine that they were in love and that they would breed in the reserve once they became adults.

The pair of flamingos was the highlight for the hundreds of school children and families who visited the reserve during the past five months. 

Alas, the flamingos are no longer in the reserve. On Saturday morning the birds were not to be seen. A search around the reserve provided evidence that there was a break-in during the night. Everything indicated that somebody entered the protected area to get the birds. The storm that was blowing made it easy for whoever it was to enter the reserve without being detected.

The argument that the two birds could have left the reserve does not hold water. Birds do not normally choose to migrate on stormy nights. Secondly, it is not a coincidence that somebody broke into the reserve on the same night that the two birds disappeared. A hunters’ association said that some of its members saw the two flamingos migrating. I do not believe this.

The disappearance of the two flamingos was a repetition of the same old story. Every time an interesting bird decides to spend some time in Malta it ends up a stuffed trophy in somebody’s cabinet. Whoever entered the reserve did not only disturb or kill protected birds. He also robbed hundreds of visitors to the reserve the pleasure of watching two beautiful birds.

I hope that the police will soon find out whoever broke into the Ghadira Nature Reserve and if found guilty he is punished severely enough to deter anybody who is tempted to break the bird protection laws.

This article was published in the Times of Malta on 29 January 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment