Overview
The BalkanDetox Life project endeavours to address the most pressing conservation issue affecting numerous threatened wildlife species in the Balkan Peninsula by shifting the perceptions and behaviour of all relevant stakeholders, from the decision-makers to the general public and the actual users of poison baits.
Illegal wildlife poisoning
Even though using poisons to target wildlife is illegal in the Balkans, this harmful practice is still widespread and poses a real threat to the environment, public health and wildlife. In fact, illegal wildlife poisoning in the Balkans is one of the most important causes of mortality and population declines for vulnerable and endangered species. The most common motive behind this practice in the Balkans is the intentional placement of poison baits to kill wild predators or other feral and domestic animals that may harm livestock or game species. However, in addition to the animals targeted, other vulnerable species suffer too, as it is a non-selective means of extirpating animals. For example, as obligate scavengers, vultures often fall victim to poisoning by directly consuming the bait or feeding on poisoned animals' carcasses. The frequent and successive poisoning incidents in the Balkans resulted in 465 confirmed vulture deaths over the past 20 years, and a Vulture Conservation Foundation (VCF) study estimates that at least 115 vultures die annually from poisoning in the Balkans since only about 20% of such incidents are discovered and documented.

Project

In this five-year endeavour, the BalkanDetox LIFE project intends to improve the management of poisoning incidents and significantly reduce the mortality of vultures and other affected species caused by the illegal use of poison baits across Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Republic of North Macedonia and Serbia. The project team attempts to fight the threat of wildlife poisoning by raising awareness and strengthening national capacities through primarily ensuring real and continued engagement of relevant governmental authorities in combating this issue and labelling it as a socially unacceptable occurrence in the general public's eyes across seven Balkan countries.

The project received funding from the EU's LIFE Programme, and it is co-financed by the Vulture Conservation Foundation, the MAVA Foundation and Euronatur, as well as by the Whitley Fund for Nature and Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund for specific actions. Project partners are the Vulture Conservation Foundation as the coordinating beneficiary, and the Albanian Ornithological Society, Association BIOM, Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia, Fund for Wild Flora and Fauna, Hellenic Ornithological Society, Macedonian Ecological Society, Ornitološko društvo NAŠE Ptice and the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania as associated beneficiaries. Furthermore, this project relies on Spanish best practice experience in combating illegal wildlife poisoning and counts on the support from the Junta de Andalucía and the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

Objectives

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