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Smuggled songbirds trade alive in Malta: NGO

Xinhua,June 03, 2018 Adjust font size:

VALLETTA, May 30 (Xinhua) -- Environmental NGO BirdLife Malta has insisted that the buying and selling of smuggled birds in Malta is not a new phenomenon.

This week it was reported that a smuggling racket had been discovered by the police, but only after it had already smuggled thousands of birds.

Europol said the rare and in some occasions protected birds were being sold to poachers and restaurants across Italy as part of a smuggling network that was also linked to Malta.

According to Times of Malta, Maltese police sources said the racket had long been going on in Malta and seizures of shipments were made by the local authorities from time to time.

"This is something we are aware of. Birds are brought into the island illegally from Sicily and sold as lure or for aficionados," the sources said.

"We have on many occasions recorded incidents where finches were being sold illegally from pet shops in Malta and Gozo along with the weekly market on Saturdays in Floriana," Birdlife Malta head Mark Sultana Sultana was quoted as saying.

He said the business was a lucrative one, and that the smuggling racket had smuggled some 13,000 birds, with an estimated value of 1 million euros across Italy and Malta.

Sultana stressed that the outcome of a European Court of Justice verdict on bird trapping could be a game-changer both for illegal hunting and trapping on the island but also because it would stop the ever-increasing problem with the illegal trade of songbirds. Enditem