Poison sentinels, a demonstrative action to fight wildlife crime from the air

WWF Spain launches the campaign Poison Sentinels, a pilot case within the SWiPE project to show the potential of birds equipped with GPS devices to fight poisoning and other wildlife crimes.

The illegal use of poisoned baits is a crime that kills animals indiscriminately, seriously threatens biodiversity and involves a hazard to public health. Perpetrators often use this illegal practice to kill a particular species which might pose a problem for their private properties. It is, however, a non-selective method that kills other animals that predate or scavenge on the poisoned one. This is the reason why the Birds Directive forbids its use.

The Anti-Poison Crew

Through the story of six birds of prey, presented as the leaders of anti-poison squads, the Poison Sentinels initiative gives visibility to the hundreds of thousands of animals equipped with the latest GPS tracking technologies all over Europe.

Those technologies not only allow scientists to keep track of their movements. They also give the chance to law enforcement agencies for urgent intervention and the collection of evidence against the culprits. Furthermore, the data that the new transmitters provide is so precise that can be considered expert evidence at trial, even detecting the type of crime, such as poisoning or illegal shooting.

This is how birds of prey are tagged with GPS devices:

More than 200,000 animals poisoned only in Spain

Effective tools to fight wildlife crime

Luckily, these GPS technologies are already helping reverse the trend. The effectiveness of those devices has increased exponentially in the last two years, which, together with the reduction in the price, makes them a great tool to improve the detection and prosecution and sentencing of these crimes.

More information:
The “Poison Sentinels” campaign is an innovative communication action on the usefulness of marking birds with GPS transmitters to raise the profile of wildlife crimes. It has been selected by WWF Spain as a demonstrative action within the European project LIFE SWiPE as part of its B8 action.