2022 has been another busy year for the BalkanDetox LIFE team, realising several important achievements for the project’s success in fighting illegal wildlife poisoning. The project continued to analyse the extent and scope of poisoning across seven Balkan countries while building capacities and cooperating with the relevant stakeholders to effectively monitor, manage and investigate such incidents. These efforts proved invaluable in combating vultures’ biggest threat, helping prevent several potential mass mortality events.
Analysis of the situation with wildlife poisoning in the Balkans
- A study about the illegal use of poison in the environment of the Balkan Peninsula has been produced and disseminated online. This study reflects in detail the particular circumstances and current status of wildlife poisoning in each project country.
- Analysis of the use of legal and illegal agricultural chemicals used for wildlife poisoning in the Balkan countries was completed and disseminated online as a report.
- Analysis report of operational capacities of national referent toxicological laboratories for Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia produced and disseminated online.
Cooperation with relevant governmental authorities
- The national anti-poisoning working group in Bosnia and Herzegovina has been officially established.
- The national anti-poisoning working group in North Macedonia has been officially established within the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning via a ministerial decision signed by the Minister.
- Schemes of the jurisdiction of the relevant national governmental authorities have been developed by the National anti-poisoning working groups in all project countries.
- The national anti-poisoning road map for Albania and North Macedonia is fully developed and pending official adoption and integration into existing national legislation by the relevant Ministries.
Capacity building of relevant governmental authorities for combating wildlife poisoning
- Standard Operational Protocols for the investigation of poisoning incidents, conduction of forensic necropsies and toxicological analysis of wildlife have been fully developed by the NAWGs in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece and North Macedonia.
- Standard operational protocols were officially adopted by the Greek state through a JMD between MEEN, MRDF, the Ministry of Civil Protection and the Ministry of Interior.
- The second Cohort of the Wildlife Crime Academy successfully completed the Level 1 and Level 2 specialised training courses about combating wildlife crime.
Keeping a watchful eye on poisoning incidents in the Balkans
- National databases for storing information about poisoning and presumable poisoning incidents were set up in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia.
- Regional database for wildlife poisoning set up – information about poisoning incidents from the Balkan Peninsula available to the public via the Balkan Wildlife Poisoning Map.
- Over 60 poisoning and presumable poisoning incidents have been recorded in the region during 2022.
- 19 GPS transmitters were deployed on Griffon Vultures in Bulgaria and Croatia in 2022 to be used as sentinels for poisoning events. The Report on the tagged Griffon Vultures within the auspices of the BalkanDetox LIFE project has been produced.
We will continue to work with the same commitment in 2023 to fight illegal wildlife poisoning and help protect vultures and other threatened species.
The BalkanDetox LIFE project
The ‘BalkanDetox LIFE‘ project aims to strengthen national capacities to fight wildlife poisoning and raise awareness about the problem across Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, the Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia. It is a five-year endeavour with a €1.8 million budget that received funding from the EU’s LIFE Programme and co-funding by the Vulture Conservation Foundation, the MAVA Foundation and Euronatur. Project partners are the Vulture Conservation Foundation as the coordinating beneficiary, and the Albanian Ornithological Society, Association BIOM, Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia, Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Macedonian Ecological Society, Ornitološko društvo NAŠE Ptice and the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania as associated beneficiaries. Furthermore, this project is based on Spanish best practice experience and counts on the support from the Junta de Andalucía and the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.