Building capacity for effective Wildlife Crime Prosecution: Bulgarian training sessions

In October 2022, Bulgarian prosecutors took part in a groundbreaking two-day training event that marked the beginning of a series of sessions aimed at equipping these legal professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle wildlife crime. The training was organised by WWF Bulgaria and the Association of Prosecutors in Bulgaria (APB), as part of the LIFE SWiPE project, and brought together 50 prosecutors from across the country. 

Expert speakers covered a range of topics, including relevant national and international legislation and the first steps needed towards establishing a specialised unit for detecting and investigating wildlife crimes. Svetlana Boshnakova, a member of the Supreme Judicial Court, was an official guest of the event, and the Chief Prosecutor of the Republic of Bulgaria, Ivan Geshev, and the Director of the National Investigation Service, Borislav Sarafov also joined the prosecutors.

The event provided a platform for vital discussions on how best to fight wildlife crime in Bulgaria and to increase the efforts on the issue. Among other topics, the participants discussed the need to create an interdepartmental coordination council in Bulgaria, whose task is to provide timely and practical support to the structures involved in nature protection and countermeasures for environmental crimes. 

Nikolay Terziev from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Bars the dog.

The prosecutors also got the chance to discover the impressive skills of sniffer dogs for detecting poisons and poisonous baits in nature, with an outdoor demonstration by Nikolay Terziev from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds and Bars the dog. The scope of this problem in Bulgaria and the Balkans, which constitutes a serious threat to endangered species, was discussed after the demonstration. 

The next training sessions on the prosecution and investigation of wildlife crime will be held in April 2023. They are part of the Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe (SWiPE) project, which is co-financed by the LIFE program of the EU. The goal is to continue building capacity among law enforcement authorities to protect the rich biodiversity of Bulgaria against these serious crimes.