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Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe (LIFE SWiPE)

© WWF / Mike Goldwater

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

What is the issue?

Crimes against nature and the environment are the fourth most lucrative activity of organized crime in the world, after human, drugs and weapon trafficking. This area of crime is on the rise, and a UNEP and INTERPOL report (2014) found that the cost of crimes against nature and the environment is up to $258 billion, including the incalculable damage to our planet, a significant reduction in biodiversity and the complete extinction of some plant and animal species.

Although there is no systematic collection of data on wildlife crime, recent reports show the scale of the problem:
● According to a 2017 report by BirdLife International, one million birds are killed each year in Europe.
● Europol estimates that 100 tonnes of European eel are smuggled into China from the European Union each year.
● In 2017 alone, 5,644 criminal offenses related to the endangerment of protected animal species were reported through the EU-TWIX instrument. EU-TWIX is the European Union's electronic database for combating illegal wildlife trafficking.

For this reason, recent European Union initiatives such as the EU Action Plan to Combat Illicit Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, the Roadmap towards eliminating illegal killing, trapping and trade of birds, and the Pan-European Sturgeon Action Plan recognize the urgent need for better law enforcement and more effective control of criminal activities related to wild species.

What are we doing?

The project "Successful wildlife crime prosecution in Europe" (LIFE SWiPE) aims to discourage, and ultimately reduce the number of wildlife crimes, through better enforcement of EU environmental regulations and more successfully prosecuted crimes, helping thus restoring the endangered European biological diversity and ecosystem health. The fight against environmental crime has become a priority in the European Union for the period 2018-2021. as part of the fight against international and organized crime.

The existence of key documents, such as the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trade (EU WAP), does not ensure a lower crime rate against wild species. Despite the serious negative impact on species conservation, safety and public health, this type of crime is rarely detected, reported, prosecuted and punished. The goal of the project is to increase by 25% the number of investigated, reported and prosecuted crimes against wild species, thanks to greater expertise, better inter-agency and cross-border cooperation of competent authorities. In addition to this, the project will also develop an Online LIFE SWiPE Wildlife Crime Information Portal for wildlife crime in Europe: stopwildlifecrime.eu.

Cooperation with key European bodies and organisations, such as TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, The European Network of Prosecutors for the Environmental (ENPE), The European Union Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE) will enable a more efficient implementation of the LIFE SWiPE project.

Who do we work with?

The activities will be carried out within the project that is financially supported by the European program LIFE called „Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe“ (SWiPE). The project is being implemented by WWF, Flora & Fauna International, TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, State's Attorney Office of the Republic of Croatia, and Judiciary Academy of the Republic of Croatia, in 11 european countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Spain and Ukraine.