The illegal practice of poisoning wildlife is the single biggest factor preventing vultures from making a comeback right across the Balkan Peninsula. Since March 2018 we here at the Vulture Conservation Foundation have been leading the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project, bringing together wildlife, governmental and non-governmental organisation from six different Balkan countries to tackle this issue. In April 2019 we hosted the region’s first workshop dedicated solely to fight against illegal wildlife poisoning.
Protecting vultures in the Balkans
For many law enforcement agencies, relevant governmental agencies and judicary systems across the Balkans illegal wildlife poisoning is a low priority which is reflected in often inadequate legislation and poor enforcement of existing laws across the region. This is primarily due to the significant lack of knowledge and awareness of the damage wildlife poisoning can do to wildlife, human health and even lack of acknowledgement that it represents a nature conservation issue. Yet it is one of the most important threats regarding illegal killing of birds and has a serious conservation impact in many species, especially those which primarily feed on carrion such as vultures, and has contributed to their regional extinction or severe depletion in the region.
Raising awareness of the issue not just among the public but also among governmental authorities is crucial for successful implementation of specific actions for detection of poison in the environment and poisoned animals in the field.
These are the very first steps which are needed to be taken in order to address this significant conservation issue for the vultures guild.
It is this lack of action across most Balkan countries that the Balkan Anti-Poisoning Project is hoping to address.
The Balkan Vultures Anti-Poisoning Workshop
Presentations during the Balkan Vultures Anti-Poisoning Workshop (c) Hristo Peshev
For three days in April 2019 we hosted the Balkan Vultures Anti-Poisoning Workshop that aimed to increase understanding of the issue, share practice and build capacity to tackle illegal wildlife poisoning. Over the course of the workshop representatives from relevant governmental institutions and enforcement agencies, national and international experts from Civil Society Organisations working in this field and staff from the a variety of vulture conservation projects funded by the European Union’s LIFE programme came together. In total there were far more than the anticipated 60 delegates, 80 participants from 17 countries joined us for the Balkan Vultures Anti-Poisoning Workshop.
Practical training session on how to identify a victim of poisoning in the field and practical tips for post-mortems.
During the course of the Workshop participants were able to get an overview of the current status of the vulture populations in the Balkan Peninsula, to review and consultation on the six National Anti-Poisoning Roadmaps/Strategies delivered under the BAPP project, review current projects and initiatives relevant to wildlife poisoning in the Balkan Peninsula, discuss about reinforcing of capacities for anti-poisoning work and networking and sharing best practices to mitigate poisoning at Pan-Balkan level.
Participants during the Balkan Vultures Anti-Poisoning Workshop during the fieldtrip (c) Hristo Peshev
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.
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