Tracking progress in combating wildlife crime in Europe

The SWiPE project, currently in its final stage, brought together representatives of the project partners from 11 countries for a meeting on June 15th and 16th. Held in Sofia, Bulgaria, the meeting was part of a LIFE monitoring mission conducted by the European Climate, Environment and Infrastructure Executive Agency and ELMEN EEIG, with participants attending both in person and online.

The first day of the meeting took place in Sofia and featured inspiring presentations by SWiPE partners, highlighting their progress and achievements throughout the project, particularly regarding the pilot cases. A dedicated session on communications allowed project partners to share successful examples of communication actions, including an impactful advocacy/awareness campaign on wildlife crimes in Bulgaria.

The second day of the meeting took place in the magnificent setting of the Bishop’s Basilica of Plovdiv. The main objective was to facilitate the exchange of experiences among stakeholders engaged in combating wildlife crime. 

During the meeting, representatives from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds/Birdlife Bulgaria and the Green Balkans Wildlife Rescue Centre showcased exemplary cases of international trafficking of protected species and incidents of illegal poisoning in the wild. These cases highlighted the complex nature of wildlife crime. The presentation was an opportunity for networking among LIFE projects, as their work is part of the LIFE for Falcons.

Presentation by the LIFE for Falcons project in Plovdiv

Notably, Mr. Trifon Boychev from the National Police, director of the newly established Specialised Wildlife Crime Unit within the Economic Police Department, attended the meeting. Alongside Inspector Kamen Nikolov from the “Zoopolice and Cynology” sector, they discussed the role of the Directorate-General of National Police in combating wildlife crime, emphasizing the need for training.

The collaboration among project partners and the involvement of various stakeholders, shows the strong commitment to keep on building on the SWiPE project’s work. By fostering knowledge exchange and cooperation across Europe, the project is laying a solid foundation to protect endangered species from the threat of wildlife crime.