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New report shows the importance of discouraging wildlife crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina

WWF launched a new national report about most common wildlife crimes, the most affected animals and recommendations for reducing such crimes.

Crimes against nature and the environment are the fourth most lucrative activity of organized crime in the world, after human, drugs and weapon trafficking. The cost of crimes against nature and the environment sum up to $258 billion a year, cause incalculable damage to our planet, significantly reduce biodiversity and can lead to the complete extinction of some plant and animal species. Even though environmental crimes were the third most frequently reported criminal offense during the period of 2011–2017 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the awareness about their seriousness is weak and sentences for committing such crimes are mild or non-existing.

WWF launched a national report which provides insights into the most common wildlife crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the animal species that are most affected and recommendations for reducing and discouraging such crimes in order to raise public awareness and reduce the number of wildlife crimes through effective and successful prosecution.

“The main issue in reducing wildlife crimes in BiH is scarcity of information. There is no official data which could serve as a basis to determine the real scale of wildlife crime in that country. Most of the data and analyses are the result of the work of the non-governmental sector, and the topic of punishable acts to the detriment of birds in the country is the best researched”, said Snježana Malić- Limari from WWF Adria.

The report shows that the largest number of recorded cases of poaching, poisoning and illegal trade relate to birds. It is estimated that in Bosnia and Herzegovina up to 47 thousand birds are killed annually, and the reason is often poaching of songbirds for illegal trade. Trophy hunting often threatens black grouse, waterfowl and birds of prey, and griffon vulture is extinct on a national level for about 30 years due to poisoning. Griffon vultures are scavengers, which means they feed on dead prey and have an important role in nature as "natural cleaners". In doing so, they often eat poisoned carcasses left by locals and intended for predators, which led to their extinction in the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides birds, other cases of poaching, poisoning, keeping and smuggling are related to large carnivores, especially bears, but also wolves and lynx.

“The institutional and legislative framework for nature protection in Bosnia and Herzegovina is complex and uneven due to its fragmentation at four administrative levels - state, entity, cantonal and municipal, which makes it even more difficult to fight against wildlife crimes systematically and effectively. Such a complex state structure significantly slows down the adoption of regulations and complicates the clear division of responsibilities between levels of government and institutions. For example, wolves are a protected species in one entity in the country, and considered a game without a prescribed closure period in another. Also, date shells are protected in the EU but are not protected in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they are regularly offered in restaurants”, said Malić-Limari.

For a greater number of reported, successfully detected and sanctioned cases of wildlife crimes, it is necessary to strengthen the public and institutional awareness about the serious consequences of such crimes on nature and people, and to increase the capacities of institutions responsible for nature protection and the judiciary. Although the transfer of international and European obligations to the national legal order has achieved some progress in the nature protection sector and the work of the judiciary in the country, that process is limited and differs in the entities. Improvement of regulations and their harmonizing with international and European laws, as well as better cooperation between competent institutions and experts can lead to reducing and discouraging wildlife crimes.

This national report is part of the LIFE SWiPE project (Successful Wildlife Crime Prosecution in Europe), that aims to discourage, and ultimately reduce the number of wildlife crimes through better enforcement of EU environmental regulations and more successfully prosecuted crimes.

Full report is available here in national and English language.
Find out more about the LIFE SWiPE project here.
 
SWIPE campaign against wildlife crimes