Poisoning, poaching, trapping, collision, electrocution and illegal trade are all examples of severe wildlife crimes that are often overlooked and under-prosecuted.
Victims of these crimes don't have a voice, making them powerless unless people care. And even when it comes to solving these crimes, investigators face several setbacks such as remote crime scenes with degrading evidence, unreliable or no witnesses, nonexistent protocols and lack of specific training.
It is therefore urgent to prioritize and fight these crimes head-on by conducting proper investigations and achieving convictions to deter similar cases from occurring again, especially since impunity is often an invitation for people to continue to kill and poison wildlife.
This is where the Wildlife Crime Academy (WCA) comes in to bridge the knowledge and capacity gaps, and change the attitude towards wildlife crime, to be treated like any other crime.
A member of our dedicated Team against Poisoned Baits, travelled to Spain to attend the Basic Course of the first-ever Wildlife Crime Academy, implemented within the scope of the BalkanDetox LIFE project.
This event marked a milestone as it’s the first training of its kind achieving real engagement and providing necessary skills to relevant stakeholders to effectively fight wildlife crime in several European regions.
A total of 34 professionals working in conservation, law enforcement and forensic science from 9 countries (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, the Republic of North Macedonia, Serbia and Spain) took part in this intensive, interactive 3-day training that took place in Cazorla, Andalucia, between 29th June and 1st July 2021.
Participants were introduced to procedures and scientific protocols in order to learn how to investigate wildlife crime -from Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) and forensic analysis to the final procedure at the Court. Apart from HOS, partner of the BalkanDetox LIFE project, representatives from the Greek Police Force, the Greek Forestry Departments and the recently-established Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA) attended the course.
Participants will reunite once again during the Advanced Course foreseen for autumn to enhance their specialization in their respective areas of expertise. The goal of the WCA is to provide the opportunity to as many people as possible across Europe and eventually the world to receive the training necessary to combat this severe threat so that less wildlife dies from these crimes.
Our participation in the BalkanDetox LIFE project and its first Wildlife Crime Academy is a validation of HOS’ systematic efforts, for more than a decade devoted to tackling poisoned baits as well as raising awareness on crimes against wildlife.
To be able to receive such a thorough and hands-on training while being introduced to best practices from top experts in the field, can be an extremely useful tool for all HOS’ teams dedicated to fighting and preventing wildlife crime but also to all authorities involved in solving and punishing such crimes.
It is also worthy to note that once all 3 courses of the training are concluded, all represented entities and authorities will be able, in turn, to train their staff, which will help fight wildlife crime in a more systematic and efficient way.