應該是從南美歌曲 I rather be an eagle than a snail 化出....
鳥 類保護組織則抱怨馬耳他人對於射獵的迷戀。鳥類保護人士稱﹐曾看見漁船上的獵人對火烈鳥窮追不捨﹐有些人追趕野鶴竟然追到了女修道院。馬耳他國際機場跑道 附近的區域也成了獵手們射殺的好地方﹕對於習慣了北歐地貌的鳥類而言﹐這裡是一片難得一見的平坦草地﹐而小島的其他地方則崎嶇多岩。
保護 鳥類的志願者們把受傷的鳥兒送到位於Ta'Xbiex的鳥類保護組織 BirdLife Malta﹐Ta'Xbiex是馬耳他首都瓦萊塔近郊的小鎮。為BirdLife工作的瑞內會為這些鳥兒拍照──他的數碼相機去年見證了80只受保護鳥兒 的葬禮。那些受傷的鳥兒會被獸醫們悉心照料。
可 如今﹐當馬耳他加入歐盟之後﹐獵手們反而成了被追捕的對象。總部設在布魯塞爾的歐盟譴責馬耳他政府違反了于1979年生效的《歐盟鳥類保護指引》﹐並表達 了對射殺受保護鳥類這一非法行為的憤慨。歐盟環境委員還稱馬耳他政府的縱容態度是“瘋狂行為”﹐並有可能把馬耳他告上歐盟法院(European Court of Justice)。歐盟環境委員希望上述舉動能迫使馬耳他禁止春季射殺斑鳩和鵪鶉的活動。
獵手們則抱怨﹐他們的傳統消 遣被那些打算實現歐洲一體化的官僚們干擾了。為射獵活動進行游說的約瑟夫•卡萊斯恩(Joseph Perici Calascione)引用了馬耳他人常說的一句話來形容這個國家在歐盟事務中的陪襯地位﹕Hanqa ta' hmar fid-dezert﹐意思是就像一隻在沙漠中嘶叫的驢子﹐沒人理睬。
限制馬耳他人的射獵活動似乎是苛求。在射獵季節的每個清晨﹐很多馬耳他人都會在黎明之前趕到山上﹐設好成排的埋伏點﹐就像海邊的小塔樓。“你在春季連一個 水管工都找不到﹐”旅行社職員亨利•阿帕蒂(Henry Fenech Azzopardi)說。他也熱衷于射獵﹐並加入了一個游說政府的委員會。
在 獵手們的大本營Rabat小鎮上﹐邁克爾•阿帕蒂(Michael Azzopardi)正在自己的槍支出售店裡忙碌著。那天早上他四點半就起床了。“這不僅僅是一項活動。它置根在你的心裡﹐”他指出﹐“如果他們在這個季 節﹐在四月份停止射獵﹐”他的聲音越來越低沉﹐“還不如直接把我投入監獄算了。”
不 久前的一個清晨﹐太陽還沒有昇起的時候﹐Siggiewi小鎮上就迴蕩著槍聲。由石頭和水泥構成的獵人埋伏處點綴在山頂四週的田野裡。一隻公雞打起了鳴﹐ 宣告著黎明的到來。槍聲還在下面的山谷此起彼伏。只見一隻孤獨的黑色小鳥盤旋到一個埋伏點後面。這時槍響了﹐小鳥頓時像一隻飛盤那樣跌落在地﹐一名獵手隨 即跑上前去。
FKNK 也譴責了上述行為﹐不過它與BirdLife的關係還是相當緊張。BirdLife與英國頗有影響力的組織英國皇家保護鳥類協會(Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)是同盟。瑞內本人來自百慕大。BirdLife的負責人特爾加•圖格(Tolga Temuge)是位資深的鳥類保護人士﹐來自土耳其。
FKNK 對外國人插手馬耳他事務一點也不害怕。在一篇長長的新聞稿中﹐該組織譴責圖格試圖製造“爭議和攻擊”。文中表示﹐“我們過去不曾懼怕約三萬的土耳其人﹐因 此我們確信現在我們也不會懼怕一個土耳其人。”新聞稿中所指的過去是1565年的馬耳他大圍攻﹐當時由蘇萊曼大帝統治下的奧斯曼土耳其帝國被馬耳他騎士團 (Knights Hospitaller)擊敗了。
在 檢查了試圖射殺鶴的地點之後﹐瑞內又驅車前往位於馬耳他西南端的Dingli Cliffs。這裡的景象真有點驚心動魄﹕一邊是懸崖絕壁﹐一百英尺下面就是大海。面對著海水方向到處都是射獵的埋伏點﹐專為阻擊從海上飛來的鳥兒。這些 埋伏點上還有綠色油漆刷的警示語﹐“請勿進入”﹐“私人領地”和“私人專有”。
In Tiny Malta, Hunters Cry Foul In EU Bird Dispute
(From THE WALL STREET JOURNAL) By Charles Forelle
TA'XBIEX, Malta -- This is one place you wouldn't want to be a falcon.
Andre Raine's digital photos illustrate the perils of a life aloft on this tiny island: a marsh harrier with a gaping shotgun wound. An alpine swift pierced through the wing. A bloodied pallid harrier splayed on a blue towel.
'There are only five to 50 breeding pairs in Europe,' Dr. Raine, an ornithologist, said of the dead bird. 'This is one less now.'
Twice a year, all sorts of birds migrate between Europe and Africa. A popular stopover on the long-haul flight is Malta, a sunny speck in the Mediterranean south of Sicily. Joining the birds in the air is a lot of lead: Malta boasts one of the highest concentrations of licensed bird hunters of any nation anywhere.
Bird-protection groups complain about the Maltese penchant for pump-action punishment. Birders have reported seeing hunters in fishing boats plugging away at flamingos, and hunters chasing a crane onto the grounds of a convent. The area near the runway at Malta International Airport offers some choice shooting: For birds accustomed to northern Europe, it's a welcome stretch of flat grassland on an otherwise craggy island.
Volunteers bring downed birds to the offices of conservation group BirdLife Malta in Ta'Xbiex, a small suburb of the capital, Valletta. Dr. Raine, who works for BirdLife, snaps their pictures -- his digital mortuary logged 80 protected birds last year. The wounded are dispatched for veterinary care.
Tensions over hunting and trapping are running high as elections approach this year. Many hunters are nursing a grudge against Malta's government. The ruling Nationalist Party, they say, told them their sport would be fine if they voted to join the European Union in 2004.
But now that Malta is in, the hunters have become the hunted. Brussels has condemned Malta for several abuses of the EU's 1979 Birds Directive, and expressed anger at the illegal shooting of protected species. The EU's environment commissioner calls Malta's permissive attitude 'madness' and is likely to take Malta to the European Court of Justice. He hopes to force an end to the spring shooting of turtledoves and quail.
Hunters grouse that their traditional pastime is under assault by bureaucrats intent on homogenizing Europe. Hunting lobbyist Joseph Perici Calascione uses a Maltese phrase to describe the country's relative unimportance in European affairs: Hanqa ta' hmar fid-dezert. Like a donkey braying in the desert.
Restraining hunters in Malta will be a tall order. Every morning in season, Maltese in large numbers take to the hills before dawn, manning rows of blinds arrayed like turrets toward the sea. 'You wouldn't be able to find one plumber during the spring season,' says Henry Fenech Azzopardi, a travel agent and avid hunter who is on a committee advising the government on the sport.
A spring ban, he says, would be 'very unfair for those many thousands of hunters who voted to enter Europe believing spring hunting would continue.' He says he condemns illegal hunting, but 'law-abiding hunters are being penalized.'
In the hunters' stronghold of Rabat, Michael Azzopardi held court one afternoon at his gun shop. He had been up since 4:30 that morning. 'This is not a sport. This is like a feeling in your heart,' Mr. Azzopardi said. 'If they stop this season, the April season . . .' He trailed off. 'It is better to put me in jail.'
Hunting advocates say tiny Malta bags an insignificant number of birds, compared with the rest of Europe.
'In autumn, we get very little, if anything,' says Mr. Perici Calascione, who is the spokesman for the hunters' lobby, known as FKNK. 'I haven't shot my gun for four days. If I go to England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, I could kill in 10 days what I bag here in 10 years.'
Above the town of Siggiewi one recent morning, gunshots resounded before the sun. Stone and concrete blinds dotted fields at the crest of a hill. A rooster kicked up a racket as dawn approached. Shotguns barked in the valley below. A lone black bird came low over the back of a blind. A gun cracked, and the bird arced like a falling Frisbee to the ground. A hunter scurried out to collect it.
Being caught in the cross-fire is no fun. Birdshot rattles on roofs; dead fowls land in swimming pools. Upon first moving to the Maltese countryside, an Englishwoman, who asks not to be identified, says that such was the level of gunfire, 'we thought we were going to be killed.' Once, her husband was peppered with pellets while gardening.
Ray Vella, a park ranger for BirdLife, says he got a face full of small birdshot in October. One pellet lodged in the flesh between his eyes. The shooter, he says, 'ran off shouting obscenities.'
The FKNK condemned the shooting, but relations with BirdLife are strained. BirdLife is allied with Britain's influential Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Dr. Raine is from Bermuda. BirdLife's chief, a veteran activist named Tolga Temuge, is Turkish.
The FKNK isn't thrilled about foreigners butting into Maltese affairs. In one long press release, it accused Mr. Temuge of creating 'controversy and aggression.' It continued: 'We were not afraid of some 30,000 Turks some time back, so we're sure that we're not going to be afraid of one.' He was referring, of course, to the Great Siege of Malta in 1565, when Ottoman Turks under Suleiman the Magnificent were rebuffed by the Knights Hospitaller.
Mr. Temuge calls the FKNK 'a group of bullies.'
Bird work has led Dr. Raine around the world. Peru, the Seychelles, Zambia. When a job opened up in Malta, he jumped. Thanks to its location on migratory flyways and reputation as a hunters' paradise, Malta is a mecca for conservationists studying threats to avian populations. Birdwise, 'it is the black hole of Europe,' Dr. Raine says.
BirdLife has a network of volunteer spotters across the island primed for illegal hunting. On a recent afternoon, Dr. Raine's cellphone chirped with a text message from one of them: 'They just shot at a crane but luckily was too high! Hunter not seen.'
The spotter was positioned near the airport. In a field abutting the landing strip were three decoys used to lure golden plovers. A hunter waited with trapping nets to snap up any that touched down. 'If they hadn't turned the airport into a no-hunting bird sanctuary, you'd probably have hunters walking along the runway shooting,' said Dr. Raine.
After checking out the scene of the attempted crane shooting, he drove to Dingli Cliffs on Malta's southwestern edge. The vista is awesome: To one side, an escarpment plunges a hundred feet to the sea. Hunting blinds are everywhere facing the water where the birds come in. Green spray paint marks them: 'Tidholx' (no entry), 'Private Property,' and 'RTO' (reserved to owner).
A racing pigeon, not legal to hunt, flew into the whipping wind. It disappeared behind a ridge line. A shotgun cracked. Dr. Raine scrambled up and scanned the terrain. Bird and shooter were gone.