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Watch: Only one stork from flock of 18 still seen flying – BirdLife

Ornis committee due to meet on Wednesday

One of the storks flying over Malta soon after the flock’s arrival. Photo: Natalino Fenech

One of the storks flying over Malta soon after the flock’s arrival. Photo: Natalino Fenech

Updated 12.30pm - Added video

Only one stork could be seen flying over Magħtab on Tuesday, possibly due to hunting illegalities, BirdLife Malta said.

A flock of 18 storks had arrived on the island less than two weeks ago but the number soon dwindled after some of the birds were killed. By last week, only seven could be seen flying, with many fearing the birds had fallen victim to hunters.

“The storks always move together in a flock, so the fact that only one remains is quite concerning,” BirdLife conservation manager Nicholas Barbara said.

“It is unusual for storks to migrate this early in August in Malta. Over the past few years, white storks originating from as far as Italy and Sweden normally appeared in September. The origin of these birds remains unknown as none of them appeared to be ringed,” BirdLife Malta said in a statement. 

The storks always move together in a flock, so the fact that only one remains is quite concerning

The Ornis committee is expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss how to protect the remaining stork, Mr Barbara said.

WATCH: When killing a stork was considered a prize catch

The stork was presumed to be young, he added, noting that the adults which formed part of the flock had probably also been killed.

“They have the behaviour of following more experienced birds,” he said.

“We assume these birds ended up being lost here and eventually planned to continue migrating to Libya or Tunisia.”

Just one stork left, BirdLife says. Video: Chris Sant FournierJust one stork left, BirdLife says. Video: Chris Sant Fournier

With rampant illegalities, one of the possible solutions to protect the remaining stork would be to relocate it outside of Malta entirely, Mr Barbara remarked, adding the option was being studied.

At the moment, we definitely still need to keep up surveillance, he insisted.

Environment Minister Josè Herrera said the killing of the storks was “an utter shame”.

“You can legislate and have strong enforcement but you can never stop criminals. You can only try to minimise,” he said when asked what was being done to deter the illegalities.

A 41-year-old man from Dingli has been charged with killing three of the protected storks last week.

A person who allegedly shot two other storks had also been apprehended by the police, according to Animal Rights Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri.

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