I remember visiting the Għadira Nature Reserve as a child with my primary school, and enrolling myself as a member to receive my issue of il-Ħuttafa. I also have a very vivid recollection of attending activities and a day excursion to Comino with my father. For a long time, BirdLife Malta has always existed in my mind as this type of informative organisation. It has now, thankfully, morphed itself into an integral pressure group in the Maltese environmental scene.
This is the true meaning of an NGO. Not only do they strive to educate the public about the importance of conserving threatened species of birds, but they also actively participate in achieving their mission statement.
Just to give a brief overview of their tasks over the past couple of weeks, this organisation has been:
- Taking stock of shot protected birds
- Sending injured animals to Centro Recupero Fauna Selvatica, a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Sicily
- Coordinating monitoring campaigns with volunteers in protecting areas
- Recording the firing of shots at a desingated rate – e.g. per hour (which many people questioned as impossible, but anyone who has a slight idea of quantitative sampling knows how possible this is)
- Issuing constant press releases detailing updates of the current spring hunting season
This all done in an effort to protect threatened species of birds during this sham of a ‘regulated’ spring hunting season. If this NGO was not employing such efforts during this spring hunting season, the following video would not have been made public.
Other Maltese NGOs should take note – Friends of the Earth Malta (FoE Malta), Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar (FAA), Nature Trust Malta (NTM), Din L-Art Ħelwa (DLH), Biological Conservation Research Foundation (BICREF), Ramblers Association Malta.
It is quite useless having the status of an ‘NGO’ so that they can organise activities with the occasional press release here and there. It is also relatively counterproductive to conduct research and then not take a stand when the government makes an environmental blunder. Admittedly, NTM and FAA have been quite publicly vocal about certain environmental issues (such as Dwejra and development), but there needs to be a greater mobilising of the masses.
Having said that BirdLife Malta is partnered with BirdLife International, which makes it easier for them to access certain important resources. In fact, it is one of the only NGOs in Malta that offers paid positions for conservationists apart from voluntary one. This shows the level or seriousness which BirdLife Malta operates with, where it has become a contemporary pressure group that even contributed to the recent electoral campaign.
If other NGOs in Malta are (understandably) concerned about not having funds or the man power to achieve their targets, it could be an option for them to partner up with a big international organisation.
A change in the primitive perception of the environment by the Maltese public can only be brought about by these NGOs, but it is undeniable that there needs to be a greater effort. Well done BirdLife Malta, you make environmentalists in Malta and Europe very proud.
More information at: http://www.birdlifemalta.org/index.aspx#.UXVaYaJOTfI