Wildlife crimes, devastating for Serbian biodiversity

The Serbian national report on wildlife crime published by WWF Adria-Serbia shows the frequency and harmful consequences of these crimes, but also provides recommendations to reduce them.

The National Report on wildlife crimes in the Republic of Serbia, published by WWF, contains an overview of the legislative and institutional framework for the protection of wild species in Serbia, a statistical analysis of collected data on criminal offenses against wildlife for the period from 2016 to 2020, and a set of recommendations and measures to improve the system of wildlife protection in the Republic of Serbia.

Songbirds, exotic species, and bears, among the most affected species

Of the collected and analyzed cases, the largest number related to the illegal possession of protected wild species, while illegal trade and smuggling were also frequent. Songbirds from the finch family, which are illegally caught in the wild and kept in captivity, were most often the subject of criminal acts, while numerous other local and exotic bird species are often victims of smuggling. Of the local protected species, the brown bear and the forest turtle have been the subject of crimes in several cases, while cases of smuggling and illegal possession of exotic species of snakes such as pythons are also common.

“Serbia is home to a large number of wild animal species, many of which are protected. Crimes against wildlife, such as poisoning, smuggling, illegal hunting and possession of wild species, have many harmful consequences. In addition to the fact that it can lead to the extinction of certain species, they also have serious economic consequences, and often include organized international crime,” says Iva Svilar from WWF Adria.

While compiling the Report, a total of 165 cases were collected and analyzed, 110 of which were misdemeanors and 55 were criminal offenses. In 75% of initiated misdemeanor proceedings, the accused was found guilty, while that percentage is lower in criminal proceedings – about 57% of them ended in a conviction.

Good legal framework, although implementation is insufficient

In the majority of misdemeanor proceedings, a fine was imposed, which averaged around 45,000 dinars, and in the case of criminal offenses, an unsuspended prison sentence was imposed in only 5 cases. Because of the lenient sentencing policy, the perpetrators often repeat these crimes. Although the Report shows that the legislative framework of Serbia in this area is relatively good, the analysis of the collected data shows insufficient implementation of these laws in practice. The successful suppression of wildlife crimes is further hampered by the lack of capacity of competent authorities to detect, investigate and prosecute crimes, the lack of specialization of employees and poor technical equipment.


In order to improve the situation, it’s necessary to:

  • build strong cooperation between the relevant institutions,
  • increase the capacity through continuous training of the competent services, and
  • promote the active participation of all citizens to reduce the number of these crimes in the future.

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