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Springwatch presenter Chris Packham attacks Malta's bird slaughter which has seen 'at least' 24 protected species killed


Chris Packham, the nature programme presenter, has criticised television producers and bird charities for turning a blind eye to the mass slaughter of migrant birds in Malta.

The presenter of the popular BBC Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes said it was "a sad reflection of our complacent and risk-adverse times" that his appeals to expose one of Europe's biggest legalised bird hunts had been ignored.

Around 10,500 armed hunters have just started their annual three-week shoot of thousands of migrant birds as they rest in the Maltese islands on their way back from Africa to breeding grounds in mainland Europe.

Mr Packham claims that "at least" 24 species of protected birds, including ospreys, kestrels and golden orioles, were killed in last year's hunt. This is despite guidelines stating that only two breeds, the turtle dove and quail, are allowed to be shot during hunting season.

Having failed to secure television backing, Mr Packham is self-funding a production team of three people and filming a series of video diaries from Malta that will be broadcast on YouTube later this month.

On his website, Mr Packham said: "It will not be pretty. The species killed include many UK favourites and rarities, and the hunters are infamous for being confrontational and violent."

A spokesman for Birdlife Malta, which is working with Mr Packham, said: "Birds from at least 30 different European countries are known to have been killed on their migration through Malta."

He added that 44,000 Maltese people have called for a national referendum to stop the spring hunting. In 2009 Malta was prosecuted by the European Court of Justice for allowing the hunt to take place, finding that it was in breach of the Birds Directive.