Malta is well known in bird-watching circles for its annual slaughter of birds of prey and illegal spring hunting. Each year, conservationists from all over the world attend camps there in an effort to combat this `traditional pastime`, and to wrestle the countryside from the grip of 15,000 hunters and trappers.
For over 20 years the two main political parties in Malta have been hi-jacked by the hunting and trapping lobby, thereby allowing the indiscriminate slaughter of protected species to carry on unabated. Since Malta's accession to the E.U. the poaching of birds for inclusion in hunters' taxidermy collections continues despite the EU Birds and Habitats Directive.
Birds, Bins and Bullets follows a group of birdwatchers from the UK as they work alongside the Malta Police Force and Birdlife Malta volunteers in their fight against this illegal hunting.
This is about international conservation and about reclaiming the countryside for the birds, and for the people of Malta.
Aggressive and abusive hunters, cars blown up and sabotaged, forest rangers and conservationists shot at, nature reserves vandalised and loaded weapons seized by unarmed police officers: This is conservation at the sharp end.
Birds, Bins and Bullets was short-listed in the Wildlife Vaasa Film Festival 2008 in Finland.
Running time - 71 minutes. PAL 16x9 FHA Widescreen. Stereo
All regions DVD available here.
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Preview trailer here.
The Honey Buzzard is an observational piece showing the distressing effects of illegal hunting activities on birds of prey in Malta.
During the process of making Birds, Bins and Bullets I filmed a sequence involving a Honey Buzzard that had been shot by poachers. Sadly, due to the extent of the birds injuries, it had to be humanely euthanised by the vet. I found the experience immensely harrowing and felt it important to release this short film ahead of the main documentary.
With no commentary, the pictures speak for themselves and the viewer is invited to bare witness to the last moments of the birds life. Everyone I know that has seen the film has been moved to tears.
The Honey Buzzard recieved an Honorable Mention for Portrayal of a Critical Issue in the 31st International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana, USA, 2008.
Running time - 15 minutes. PAL 16x9.
The Northern Bald Ibis or Waldrapp is one of the most world's endangered bird species. Although it was once quite common it became extinct in Central Europe by the end of the sixteenth century and there are now only a few birds surviving in North Africa and the Middle East.
In 1997 an experimental free-flying flock of these iconic birds was reared in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Alps in Upper Austria. Following on from these initial experiments, Austrian biologist Dr Johannes Fritz started to train hand-reared birds to follow him in a microlight aircraft. The mission - to teach them how to migrate over the Alps to a wintering area in the south of Tuscany.
Return of the Waldrapp focuses on the interaction between the hand-reared birds and their foster parents as they prepare for their first migration attempt in 2003 and 2004.
Since the making of this film, the Waldrappteam have made several migrations and these birds have successfully learnt how to migrate between Austria and Tuscany on their own.
Return of the Waldrapp won the Sonderpreis des Tierschutzbeirates von Rheinland-Pfalz in the NATURALE 2004/2005 19th International Nature Film Festival.
Running time - 30 minutes. PAL 4x3.