An extensive awareness-raising campaign meant for the general public was implemented in the Republic of North Macedonia, focused in areas inhabited by vultures and places where wildlife poisoning occurs. The Macedonian Ecological Society team successfully carried out a series of activities under the Vulture Conservation Foundation’s (VCF) Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project – Small Grants Programme to reduce the problem with illegal poisoning of wildlife.
Awareness Campaign Overview
The campaign included a series of educational lectures and meetings with local stakeholders, where they raised the issue and consequences of the illegal use of poison, inspection and surveillance arrangements, and penalties and sentences related to poisoned bait use. The team visited a total of 15 villages and reached many local residents. Additionally, they set up an informative signboard and handed out posters with educational material in the Municipality of Demir Kapija, which is nearby the remaining two Griffon Vulture colonies in the country where they counted only three breeding pairs last year and one of the 13 breeding pairs of Egyptian Vultures in the country.
Vultures and poisoning in North Macedonia
The numbers of both Egyptian and Griffon vultures have been continuously declining in North Macedonia for the last few decades, and the biggest threat to their survival has time and time again proven to be the illegal and uncontrolled use of poison in the countryside. Public engagement from all relevant sectors, including the general public, is needed to mitigate this harmful practice.
It is urgent to tackle illegal wildlife poisoning in the Balkans to protect wildlife, nature as well as public health. Now, through the BalkanDetox LIFE project, the VCF will work together with many colleagues, including BIOM, across seven Balkan countries to raise awareness about this threat and build capacities among key stakeholders in an effort to minimize the scale and scope of illegal wildlife poisoning in the Balkans.
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project Small Grants Programme
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project Small Grants Programme is the first time we at the Vulture Conservation Foundation have run a grant programme, and with this we aim to reinforce national capacities within relevant governmental authorities and conservation NGOs from six countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia) of the Balkan Peninsula. This work will support those organisations to improve the skills and capabilities in the detection and mitigation of poisoning incidents through the implementation of previously developed National Roadmaps and Strategies. More specifically, through these small grants we endeavor to secure the implementation of priority anti-poisoning actions listed in the National Anti-Poisoning Road-maps/Strategies, strengthen the capacities of relevant national governmental institutions in combating the illegal use of poison baits, improve the enforcement of relevant legislation and attract other funding opportunities for implementation of large-scale anti-poisoning projects in the region. Through the support of the MAVA Foundation, we managed to dedicate a budget of €60.000 for these small grants.
Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is a cross-border initiative bringing together wildlife conservation organisations, governmental agencies and other stakeholder such as; hunting associations, farmers and scientists, in six Balkan countries to tackle illegal wildlife poisoning.
Funded by the Mava Foundation we aim to secure real and continued engagement of the relevant national governmental authorities in the Balkan region against illegal wildlife poisoning and increase their capacity to counteract it and working together to take positive steps to protect vultures.
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is a partnership between us here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Albanian Ornithological Society-AOS, Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania-PPNEA, Ornithological Society “Naše ptice”,Association BIOM, Hellenic Ornithological Society-HOS, Macedonian Ecological Society-MES, Društvo za zaštitu i proučavanje ptica Srbije.
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project also contributes directly into the implementation of the Vulture Multi-Species Action Plan by carrying out anti-poisoning actions in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia and Serbia, and is building on our work for the last decade in the Balkans through the Balkan Vulture Action Plan.