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Fighting for vultures in the Balkans – Excellent progress in Macedonia within the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project!

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A significant breakthrough has been made in establishing cooperation with relevant government institutions in Macedonia towards combating wildlife poisoning. A National Anti-Poisoning

Meeting took place at the 17th of May in Skopje, which was attended by all relevant national stakeholders, including representatives from the ministry of environment, environmental inspection agency, ministry of interior affairs, forensic service agency, universities, veterinary inspection agency, ministry of agriculture and the veterinary institute. The meeting  was (very well) organized by the Macedonian Ecological Society (MES), MES within the scope of the Balkan Anti-poisoning Project (BAPP), coordinated by VCF.

The meeting aimed at establishing a National Anti-poison Working Group, which will actively work on the preparation of a national road-map against wildlife poisoning. Through intensive and detailed debates, existing gaps in the investigation of poisoning incidents, toxicological analysis and legal proceedings were identified, with concrete recommendations made.

Macedonia has a history of well-documented poisoning incidents, and so all the participants were very

motivated and productive, almost as if they were waiting for a long time for this meeting to happen. Together we have identified the drivers and the most important stakeholders related to poisoning and were able to resolve numerous previous doubts and uncertainties.

In General Macedonia has good legislation in place, sufficient human capacities and expertise among national institutions for investigation of poisoning cases and conducting toxicological analysis, but more efficient and clear legal protocols describing responsibilities in reporting, investigating and prosecuting cases of wildlife poisoning need to be developed and distributed within all responsible institutions to precisely define competences of each agency within national legislation, and avoid

overlaps. A referent laboratory, within existing institutions and laboratories, for processing cases of wildlife poisoning, needs to be designated by relevant decision makers, which will enable the laboratories to conduct toxicological analysis. With some additional funding and logistical support towards laboratories, and a strong awareness campaign aimed at general public and decision-makers, things could really change for the vultures and other wildlife threatened by poisoning in Macedonia.

The positive impulse that we picked up from the relevant government institutions makes us confident that the anti-poisoning work in Macedonia will significantly improve, with future actions to be implemented during the course of the BAPP.

As it happened previously in Albania, during the course of the meeting in Skopje the new Life project

(LIFE16 NAT/BG/000874) on Egyptian vultures, led by our colleagues from BPSB, was also presented, with a focus on the activities to be implemented in Macedonia.

Poisoning has been identified as the single most important threat that vulture populations are facing worldwide within the Vulture MsAP, a crucial strategic document for conservation of Old World vultures, approved by the Convention for Migratory Species (CMS) last year. The BAPP, a vital

component of the Mediterranean Anti-Poisoning Project (MAPP), funded by the Mava Foundation and spearheaded by VCF, directly contributes to implementation of the MsAP in the region

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