WWF starts working with prosecutors and investigators in the fight against wildlife crimes | WWF

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WWF starts working with prosecutors and investigators in the fight against wildlife crimes

The fight against environmental crime has become a priority of the European Union for the period 2018-2021.

WWF Adria has taken on another new challenge! In the next three years, the conservation organization will work actively to counter wildlife criminal activities, this time cooperating with prosecutors, investigators and representatives of executive agencies.


The work will be done as part of a project financially supported by the European LIFE program under the name of "Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe" (SWiPE). It is implemented by WWF, Flora & Fauna International, TRAFFIC, the State Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Croatia and Judicial Academy (Croatia) in 11 European countries, including Bulgaria. The other countries where the project actions will be implemented are: Romania, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary, Spain, Italy, Ukraine and Poland.


Why are wildlife crimes dangerous?


Environmental crimes are the fourth most lucrative organized criminal activities in the world after human trafficking, drugs and arms. Unfortunately, it’s an expanding criminal area, and in a recent report of UNEP and INTERPOL (2014), it was identified that the cost of environmental crimes is worth up to $258 billion, including incalculable environmental costs to our planet, significant reduction in biodiversity and the complete extinction of European animal and plant species. For this reason, recent EU initiatives such as the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, the Roadmap towards eliminating illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds and the Pan-European Action Plan for Sturgeons recognize the urgent need for better law enforcement and enhanced wildlife crime prosecution.


What do we want to achieve?


In this initiative, the main goal of WWF and its partners is to discourage and ultimately reduce wildlife crime by improving compliance with EU Environmental Law, increasing the number of successfully prosecuted offences. The project activities will deliver evidence baseline on European wildlife crime in 11 project countries, boost the awareness and capacity of prosecutors and selected law enforcement authorities to provide effective environmental compliance assurance, enhance cross-border knowledge exchange, and increase cooperation between investigative agencies. It also aims to raise awareness of the negative effects of these crimes on national security, public health and the environment. This is expected to increase the imposition of more substantial and deterrent penalties. 


Although wildlife crime data are not collected systematically, recent reports illustrate the scale of the problem:

  • According to a 2017 Birdlife report, millions of wild birds are killed each year in Europe;
  • Europol estimates that 100 tons of European eel are smuggled from the EU to China each year;
  • 5,644 criminal cases of protected animal species were reported through the EU-TWIX instrument in 2017 alone. EU-TWIX is the European Union's electronic database for combating criminal trafficking of wild animals.
Wolf (Canis lupus)

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