Malta: Nature & Wildlife
Despite Malta’s small size, the island nation hosts a surprising amount of endemic plant and animal species. It is part of the European Destination of Excellence (EDEN) which is a project devoted to promoting sustainable tourism across the European Union. Destinations chosen under the EDEN scheme meet certain requirements and are then used as developmental models for other countries to follow. Such places in Malta include Nadur, Santa Lucija, Mellieha, Sengelea and Gharb.
There are many endemic flowering plants in Malta including the rare Maltese Everlasting which is a bush with bright yellow flowers, the Hoary Rock Rose which are large wild pink/red flowers, and the Maltese Pyramidal Orchid which is quite scarce but has small pale pink and white flowers. Within the waters of Malta are some 10,000 terrestrial and freshwater specimens. Of these 10,000, around 78 are endemic, however only 4,500 specimens have been recorded with the others awaiting classification, so there is a high probability that more native specimens will be discovered in the future. Dolphins are regularly spotted along the coasts of Malta with bottle-nosed and gray dolphins being the most common. Long finned pilot whales and false killer whale dolphins (dolphins that share similar characteristics with killer whales) are also common, so too are sea turtles. Other native wildlife includes four subspecies of the Maltese Wall Lizard, the Sicilian Shrew and the Maltese Freshwater Crab.
As of 2008, the Maltese Islands had designated over 20% of the total land area of the country as protected areas. Within these protected areas are two national parks that play an important role in bird conservation. As Malta lies on a major migration route, many different bird species pass through during the year. Ghadira National Reserve is home to two of Malta’s rarest ecosystems, wetland and salt marsh and as a result of this, it was initially named as a bird sanctuary in 1978. Later, it was named as Malta’s first national park. It is very rich in biodiversity and over 150 birds are recorded annually. For over three decades, the hunting and trapping of birds within 500 m of this protected area has been banned.
Is-Simar is the second national park in Malta and is a fertile agricultural valley. Listed as a bird sanctuary, Is-Simar is home to a variety of breeding birds, wintering birds and passage birds as well as many native trees and plants. The park is hosts snakes and chameleons. Along with Ghadira and Is-Simar, there are many other internationally recognised Important Bird Areas (IBAs) found throughout the islands including the Ta’Cenc Cliffs, Kemmuna, Filfla and Buskett. BirdLife Malta works to conserve wild birds and their habitats. To do this, they constantly monitor any activity that poses a threat to wild birds like illegal hunting and trapping.
Nature Trust Malta is a conservation group that strives to promote eco-tourism throughout the country. Their goal is to increase the appreciation of nature and local heritage that is in need of protection. They work alongside other conservation groups like the World Wildlife Fund to educate the local population about sustainability on the islands.
Malta Travel Information
At Goway we believe that a well-informed traveller is a safer traveller. With this in mind, we have compiled an easy to navigate travel information section dedicated to Malta.
Learn about the history and culture of Malta, the must-try food and drink, and what to pack in your suitcase. Read about Malta's nature and wildlife, weather and geography, along with 'Country Quickfacts' compiled by our travel experts. Our globetrotting tips, as well as our visa and health information will help ensure you're properly prepared for a safe and enjoyable trip. The only way you could possibly learn more is by embarking on your journey and discovering Malta for yourself. Start exploring… book one of our Malta tours today!
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