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Maltese Environment

The FKNK is only good at publicly ‘condemning’ illegalities

Yet another week in this tedious autumn hunting season in Malta, and yet another illegal shooting of a protected/endangered/rare bird species. Today’s victim is a Black Stork (Ciconia nigra), which was gunned down in Buskett in the North of the Island. At such a stage of this ongoing saga, it becomes more surprising at how no government body is taking any preventive measures to curb this selfish behaviour. Furthermore, we are increasingly seeing how utterly useless and simple minded the FKNK is in this matter, as it has so far failed to aid the government in identifying these illegal hunters.

As an environmentalist, I rarely get affected by the images of dead animals. However, I cannot help but feeling upset at the image of this Black Stork, which shows an expression of unsuspecting death across its face (Photo credit: TimesofMalta)

I am still to trying to figure out what is the point of the FKNK – is it a glorified hunters’ club, or is it an environmental NGO? Since actions generally speak louder than words, I would assume it is the former of the two. Throughout this hunting debate, all the FKNK has done was publicly condemn the illegal shootings, without taking any internal action within its organisation to help stop these individuals. Here is a comprehensive list of press releases throughout the last five years:

Every single time an illegal shooting occurs, the FKNK simply condemns the acts to prove that it is dissociated from these rogue hunters. This so called NGO has failed to name or provide any form of evidence to actually stop these individuals – but what should people expect from an organisation headed by diehard hunting lovers who do not have sufficient background or experience in conservation? By default, the FKNK is abetting illegal hunting if it does not contribute to the removal of these illegal hunters.

People need to remind themselves that we are talking about Malta here, a country in which everyone knows everybody’s business. I feel hard pressed to believe that in such a tight knit community such as the hunting one, no single member knows who is carrying out these illegal shootings. If such a community can rise up together and threaten government with its vote to secure hunting favours, it certainly can help its own cause and flush out these perpetrators.

While I have repeatedly said that I am in favour of sustained and controlled hunting, I am starting to lose sympathy for this issue. These repeated acts are marking a mockery of our country and our identity as a Maltese population that values its environment. The FKNK and the hunting community need to find their balls and name these illegal hunters. If they fail to do so, they are as guilty as these criminals and therefore do not merit the luxury of practicing their hobby anymore.

In 1968, Garrett Hardin proposed the idea of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons‘, a theory that argues how a common resource becomes destroyed as a result of selfish individuals that overuse it at the expense of the greater population. This theory is still very much valid today, and can be applied to the hunting situation in Malta. Both the hunters and the non-hunters believe that the ‘common’ (the birds), are theirs to use and enjoy, without trying to find a balance to accommodate each other. Since neither internal nor external governance is proving successful to find such a balance, it may take many years for this issue to resolved – if we do not kill the majority of the birds in the meantime.

As Hardin said in his thesis, “Ruin is the destination toward which all men rush, each pursuing his own best interest in a society that believes in the freedom of the commons“.

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