Chris Packham Cleared of Assault After Incident With Bird Hunters
Wildlife presenter and campaigner Chris Packham found himself in court recently charged with assault. The alleged incident took place in Malta where Packham and his team were filming independently for broadcast on YouTube and Facebook. They were attempting to highlight the illegal killing and trapping of rare migratory birds in Malta.
A Pack of Lies
A man reported Packham to the police claiming that he had been pushed by the naturalist.
Packham was then asked to report to the police and was charged with assault. But the idiot who reported him should have thought carefully before telling a pack of lies about someone with a film crew! There was always a chance that the incident had been caught on camera and that the truth would come out. It was and it did!
Confronting Illegal Hunters
Chris Packham had confronted the hunters but footage taken of the incident revealed that it was the hunters who had manhandled Packham and not the other way around. When the footage was shown to the magistrate he dismissed the charges against Packham immediately and criticised the police telling them that they should forward the footage to "an Italian comedy channel" because their behaviour was so ridiculous.
The recording showed Packham being pushed around by the hunters before being pushed away by the police when they arrived. Mr Packham is not interested in pressing charges against the hunters or the police as he believes that he has more important things to be getting on with.
Upholding the Law
The episode highlights the battle that BirdLife Malta have on their hands when trying to get the laws protecting wild birds upheld. Unfortunately, the protection of birds is often not taken seriously by the authorities and to make matters worse, some hunting is permitted. Malta is the only EU member state to allow the shooting of birds in spring, having negotiated an opt-out from the EU’s birds directive.
Chris Packham believes that legal hunting is helping to provide cover for the more widespread slaughter of wild birds by illegal hunters. BirdLife Malta has recorded the remains of 15 illegally shot birds this spring alone, but this is likely to be only the tip of the iceberg as many shootings occur on private land.
It is vital for the birds that legal hunting is banned but many people in Malta do not agree. Mr Packham’s visits to the island have made him unpopular in some quarters. Other people support his efforts to protect the birds.
In 2018, Chris Packham plans to take a group of twitchers to Malta in an attempt to demonstrate how Malta could make a killing of a different kind through ecotourism if the shooting stops. He is doggedly determined to prevail and to ensure that wild birds enjoy the same protection in Malta as they do elsewhere. Time will tell, but it seems likely that he has a protracted battle on his hands.