Photojournalism to show the harsh reality of wildlife crime

Britta Jaschinski, award-winner photojournalist and wildlife photographer, presented her work at an event organized in Budapest by the SWiPE project about wildlife trafficking.

During the event, held on 15 September 2022 at the Uránia National Film Theatre in Budapest, Hungary, Britta presented her work documenting wildlife crimes for decades. Following her presentation, a roundtable discussion took place about illegal wildlife trade with the participation of Annamária Balogh, project manager of the LIFE SWiPE on behalf of TRAFFIC, along with WWF Hungary.

Britta showcased her major wildlife trafficking related projects: her groundbreaking trips to different zoos and animal farms in China where bears and tigers are kept and bred for their parts used in traditional Asian medicine. With her photos (some of which depict animals in captivity), she has successfully raised awareness of wildlife crime worldwide. Britta also highlighted the work of customs officers in the UK and the USA who seized and collected different imported goods made from wild animals such as fur coats or even tables and chairs made from elephant feet.

The role of authorities to fight wildlife trafficking

The roundtable discussion focused on the role of the authorities and decision-makers in the success of fighting against wildlife trafficking. Participants agreed that the general awareness on wildlife crimes should be increased and law enforcement authorities would need more training and resources to conduct their job more effectively.

“The aim should be to impose sanctions on criminals which are sufficiently strict to deter them from committing wildlife crime. This would be beneficial for nature, but also for society. Wildlife trafficking is extremely profitable for those criminal groups who are behind it and is connected to other forms of crime, such as corruption, money laundering or money laundering. Therefore, it should be a priority for authorities and decision-makers to counter wildlife crime”, said Annamária Balogh.

Wildlife trafficking in Hungary

Hungary has a role as a transit country in illegal wildlife trafficking: the country has EU and Schengen borders. Once any goods enter the EU through these borders, there is free movement of the goods in the common market. In addition to this there are species (e.g. passerines) which are illegally transported to other European countries. At the same time, Hungary, similarly to other EU member states, is also a destination for exotic reptiles and traditional Asian medicines containing parts of endangered wild species.

Awareness raising to better understand the impacts of wildlife crime

Panellists agreed that it is of utmost importance to raise public awareness on wildlife crime so that its weight and impacts are better understood both by the public and authorities. Customers should pay more attention when ordering exotic species and medicinal products and food supplements on the Internet, when buying souvenirs when on holiday or when collecting plants during hikes.

The Hungarian language version of the CITES information website operated by the Ministry of Agriculture is a recommended source where information is available on the species, which might be banned from trade or may require import documents – such regulations may apply to both live specimens and parts/derivatives contained in products, such as medicines.

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