Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Malta is in the news again. My mother is Maltese and I spent a lot of time there when i was young. Many of my uncles and cousins are (were) hunters (pic 1 is my Uncle Joey's collection) and indeed they are caught up in the current changes.

Of course I agree that the culture has an unsustainable element to it which needs to be addressed and there is a lot of progress being made. Here is the latest story on the matter with information how people can help.


One last thing. The biggest threat to European birds is the use of agricultural chemicals which literally causes the death of millions upon millions of birds over a long term (not the hundreds/ thousands that the Maltese shoot each year). Our own country (75% farmland which is intensively farmed with associated catastrophic decline in our birdlife) is a much much more sinister violator of environmental and bird crimes than Malta and I would personally like to see it all stop.

Malta is a religious country and so I had a bit of a religious up bringing. For some reason with this Malta situation I can't help but think about this Christain moto ' Remove the beam from your own eye before you try to the remove the speck from your brothers'.


Matteo Grilli said...

Although I understand the Christian motto, I think the fact that industrialized agriculture causes more deaths than hunting is not a reason to minimize the latter. It should be actually a reason to permanently stop legal and illegal hunting, and to start the increase of more sustainable agricultural methods. I think hunting and chemichal agriculture are both huge beams in the eyes of industrialized coutries. I think your uncle Joey's collection of dead birds is really unfortunate..
Kind regards,

john said...

Here in Alaska, native people who live in isolated villages rely on hunting for survival. They cannot grow crops because of the climate, and with little or no income, they cannot pay exhorbitant grocery prices. It's a cultural right anyway. Why does anyone presume to judge sustainable hunting as immoral? What gives them the right to be so intolerant? Great subject for a blog post Pete.

Matteo Grilli said...

John, I was talking about hunting done for sport as they say or for fun as it is done in the whole of Europe, by western non native people, I was not considering the people that have to hunt for survival of course! For them is different, they must hunt..and their hunting is certainly more respectful and sustainable.

Peter Alfrey said...

Hi Matteo/John,
I do think that perspective is important and while there is a lot of media attention and public outcry to 'environmental murder' (e.g. hunting) there is a much reduced reaction to 'environmental genocide'- (e.g the excessive use of chemicals in agriculture.)
My main concerns with hunting are sustainability issues.

Matteo Grilli said...

From the perspective of Italian media attention to 'envioromental murder' and 'eviromental genocide', these things do not even exist as they are never mentioned the way they deserve. The public out cry for environmental murder in other places is a step forward I think, at least something. Better than silence. I also think that for hunting there is more public disgust because it is a direct form of violence, while the use of chemicals passes unnoticed unfortunately and probaly many people just do not realize the scale..

Peter Alfrey said...

I am not sure if a lack in perspective and priority is better than silence. Diversion tactics to less significant threats is a tactic that environmental criminals use to achieve their main targets (complete environmental annihaltion for maximum short term profit).

Unless the real threat is countered with a crystal sharp focused, unrelenting and unmerciful way than a well meaning ill informed focus on lesser threats is rather futile.

Yes- a small unit should be dedicated to sustainable hunting but the army should be facing the main enemy.

Matteo Grilli said...

Right, now I read your post with another meaning, I now understand the 'diversion tactic to less significant threat'..
Thanks for the explanation, but the work of Birdlife International is addessing to any kind of threat (weather it is hunting or habitat loss) for birds and environment or is it? I still think that a lack of perspective and priority in informatin is better than silence in this case, I hope people will start questioning and looking deeper for more informations on the matter and to find out the bigger enemy.

Peter Alfrey said...

There is a lot of great work going on and there are lots of reasons to be hopeful and thankful to all the people who are working hard in conservation.
As you say looking for the deeper answer is where the solution lies and in my opinion that answer is understanding the callaborative role that most of us are playing in creating this crisis- often subconsciously. What I am trying to say is that the environmental crisis is really a crisis of consciousness and understanding.
Understanding the wider, deeper and more complex issues is what is required.

Darryl said...

I'd expect the likes of Birdlife, etc. to be 'fighting' on multiple fronts. I'd also expect people to have the wherewithal to be able to be critical of more than one type of threat to the environment/biodiversity. Personally, being the hyper-angry, not-so-young-man that I am, I can kick up a fuss about climate change, illegal/unsustainable logging, agricultural fuck-uppery, illegal/unsustainable hunting, etc., etc., all at the same time [and my girlfriend says I can't multi-task].

I don't think the large agri-chemical giants or CAP supporters are engineering a smokescreen by instigating the unsustainable spring shooting of more than 50% of a slow reproducing, long-lived species as it passes through Malta,... or are they? [cue pantomime ooohs and aaahs]

You've just got to get used to being angry,... about everything,... all the time.

Peter Alfrey said...

I am not suggesting a conspiracy by the agri-chemical giants or CAP makers- they are just doing what they do and will continue to do it until displaced.
I am suggesting a 'conspiracy by ignorance' explains why these corporations and policy makers are largely and disproportionally unopposed and why most people get distracted by lesser threats. Our clumsy and outdated brains are trying very hard to evolve to deal with threats which are created by the sudden emergence of globalisation and the deadly threats it brings. We simply do not possess the cerebral programming to be shocked by these new threats (super-system level threats) if we did- we would be in a state of blind panic and immediate counter attack. Once the real danger is seen and understood- the neccessary reaction will be forth coming.
Indeed- good to have units dealing with all threats and Birdlife et al could also do with co-ordinating and mobilising the masses to deal with the greatest threats of all.

TheDon said...

Good to see some inteligent debate

TheDon said...

Good to observe some real informative debate

Peter Alfrey said...

Actually I think my last comment was pretty stupid. People are shit scared of nuclear war which is a recently evolved threat.
It must be becuase the majority of people dont know what is happening then ?

Tonk said...


The real problem is people don't know what is going on because a smoke screen is used i.e. having more wildlife in our countryside means your food price rockets or that we aren't going to feed the world (which on both counts is absolute bollocks you shouldn’t believe any of it).

The real problem is apathy and comfort - most people are fairly comfortable with the way things are because maybe that’s just the way it is and this problem is just to big to fix. Perhaps tackling farmland bird declines seems so insurmountable to most or that we are led to believe that conservationists are just professors of doom and everything really is ok?

The other problem is understanding - how many people know that 70% of the EU budget goes to farmers and very little of it goes on promoting wildlife friendly farming (in fact it does exactly the opposite).

So in times of austerity isn't it right to ask for a fair deal from tax payers money funding the things that people want not what the industry unions want them to believe people must have and provide eco-system services / public benefits for public investment.
Doing so now will mean wildlife and profitable and sustainable farming have a long term future, not the short term road to ecological collapse and destruction of the services that wildlife pays directly to agriculture.

Peter Alfrey said...

Alright Simon,
I am slowly coming to the conclusion that this is a salvage operation and the mission is to hold onto as much as possible for as long as possible. The problem is too big so all anyone can do is try and protect a little bit themselves- that's what it has come to round here anyway.
All this big society and localism stuff is just people being abandoned and being told to save themselves. Like you say most people are so apathetic and comfortably numb (a lot of them are actually sedated too) that they dont really care.
Who knows where this is all going but it seems only one logical course of action- hold your own ground and fight to last drop of blood :-))) Hahahhaha ( or get pissed and shag I suppose is the alternative option)

Peter Alfrey said...

Or both!

Tonk said...

fight and I would fight with you!...now who’s with us and whos against us!?