Sharing skills and practice is vital in the fight against illegal wildlife poisoning and as part of our Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project we brought together colleagues from the Balkans with the world leading Spanish agencies tackling the issue in Spain with our Wildlife Crime and Investigation – Techniques and Procedures Practical Training Course.
Building capacity and capabilities
The Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project aims to make a step change in tackling illegal wildlife poisoning, the single biggest factor preventing the comeback of vultures across the Balkan Peninsula. Since March 2018 we have brought wildlife organisations, governmental and non-governmental agencies from six different Balkan countries together to raise awareness of the issue. Through our Wildlife Crime and Investigation – Techniques and Procedures Practical Training Course we are supporting colleagues to increase their understanding, skills and capacity in investigating illegal wildlife poisoning.
Between the 7-8 May 2019 50 colleagues from across the Balkans participated in the Wildlife Crime and Investigation – Techniques and Procedures Practical Training Course in Madrid, Spain, co-organised with the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Junta de Andalucía, the Regional Government of Andalusia. The course covered fundamental aspects of investigating suspected cases of illegal poisoning , from the perspective of planning, police or forensic technique, and provided the necessary theoretical and practical knowledge so that attendees can develop the necessary investigation in their countries.
The participants heard from a range of practitioners from the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Junta de Andalucía to understand the theoretical methodology of the successful approaches used in Spain with special reference to the need for
international cooperation, as an essential tool to combat crimes against biodiversity.
As well as understanding the theoretical approaches the participants had the opportunity to apply the concepts in practice with hands-on activities based on real real poisoning incidences that occurred in Spain over the last few years where the suspect was successfully prosecuted and convicted. Using two real incidents the participants on the training course had the opportunity to apply their knowledge of forensic investigation to investigate the simulated crime scene, using the techniques employed by the original investigative teams. The cases included
- a case of wolf retaliation from 2014 in Asturias, northern Spain, that killed three Griffon Vultures, Red Kite and a Fox. Careful forensic evidence collection resulted in the culprit sentenced one and a half year imprisoned.
- a gamekeeper in Huelva, Southern Spain who was experienced at setting poison to ‘protect’ his Red Partridges from predators. His actions resulted in the death of a Black Kite, a Cinereous Vulture, a Pole Cat and a Fox. After inspection by the Agente de Medio Ambiente from the Junta de Andalucía the culprit was sentenced fro two and a half years in prison and his property was closed to hunting for 3.5 years.
The course was a success with everyone highlighting how participating has helped develop their knowledge and skills in dealing with illegal wildlife poisoning, which will ultimately be implemented in their home countries and hopefully helping to make the Balkans a safer place for vultures.
The Wildlife Crime and Investigation – Techniques and Procedures Practical Training Course was financed by the MAVA Foundation and supported by the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Junta de Andalucía, the Regional Government of Andalusia.
Wildlife Crime and Investigation – Techniques and Procedures Practical Training Course report TRAINING COURSE – Cercedilla.pdf Adobe Acrobat Document 1.2 MB Download
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.
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 thorugh the Balkan Vulture Action Plan