11 September 2018 marked a sad day for ornithology in Malta. Joe Sultana, former secretary and president of BirdLife Malta, avid environmentalist and ornithologist, passed away at the age of 78, leaving behind a plethora of papers and publications on the Maltese natural landscape and environment.
Sultana is best remembered for being an impassioned environmental activist, a vehement defender of the islands’ natural habitat as well as their heritage. The Xagħra-born writer’s love for birds shone through his published works, providing extensive studies on the avifauna of the Maltese Islands.
A collection of Sultana’s writings about his native island of Gozo was published last year. Il-Wirt Naturali t’Għawdex is an accumulation of articles highlighting Gozo’s richly diverse heritage, detailing its flora and fauna to promote the conservation and appreciation of its natural beauty. Sultana’s dedication towards the preservation of the Maltese Islands’ avian inhabitants was prevalent throughout his lifetime, and his passion has been immortalised in The History of Ornithology in Malta and The Breeding Birds of Malta , which he co-authored and published through BirdLife Malta.
Joe Sultana has been a pioneer in the study of birds on the islands, and will forever be remembered for his tireless work towards the conservation and preservation of our unique natural heritage.