Awareness raising and capacity building are key factors to fight wildlife crimes: wrapping up LIFE SWiPE in Hungary

Representatives of law enforcement authorities, prosecution services, the judiciary, the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture (responsible for nature conservation in Hungary) and national park directorates met on 30-31 May 2023 in Budapest.  The two-day long workshop and closing event of the LIFE SWiPE project provided an opportunity for practitioners to discuss various aspects of the efforts against wildlife crime and cooperation among them. The events were jointly organized by WWF Hungary and TRAFFIC.

On May 30th, the closing event of the LIFE SWiPE project took place where senior representatives of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, the Hungarian Police, the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Hungarian National Tax Administration (Customs) highlighted their commitment and outlined efforts to fight, among other illegal actions, wildlife trafficking and illegal killings, and also showcased best practices.

At the event, the key findings of the Analysis of the effectiveness of wildlife crime prosecution in Hungary – National Report were introduced by the representative of TRAFFIC. The project manager of WWF Hungary presented the wolf monitoring pilot project which covered the training of BirdLife Hungary’s poison and carcass detection dog unit for wolf sample collection. The preliminary results of the genetic analysis of the collected samples were announced: the freshly trained dogs were able to detect wolf samples and sampling collection proved to be highly effective with them.

The representative of the National Bureau of Investigation, law enforcement body responsible for the investigation of wildlife crime, introduced the work of the unit, highlighted the major types of crime cases. They also showcased some best practices, including the recently established National Environmental Security Task Force, an inter-agency cooperation mechanism to fight environmental crime.

An invited speaker from the Dutch National Public Prosecutors Service for serious fraud, environmental crime and asset recovery talked about the major challenges in combatting environment and wildlife crime in the Netherlands and how these are handled by the service.

The training session focused on wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime cases involving nationally protected species in Hungary, presenting and analyzing relevant cases and sharing best practices.