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The first intersectoral Europe-wide Wildlife Crime Conference

More than 120 wildlife crime experts and law enforcement representatives from 24 countries met at the conference in Madrid to exchange knowledge and improve cross-border collaboration.

MADRID – Last week, more than 120 European wildlife crime experts met in Madrid to exchange the latest findings on the matter and analyze best practices. The interagency meeting provided for the first time a fruitful space for dialogue and networking among experts from different links of the enforcement chain, from police bodies to prosecutors and judges. 

“Wildlife crimes are one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss, a great obstacle for wildlife conservation, and the fourth most lucrative type of organized crime in the world. Crimes like poaching, poisoning, and trafficking of both live animals and animal parts are profitable and difficult to detect, prosecute and convict. A lot of these crimes happen right here in Europe, with its victims being endangered European species and biodiversity,” said the project manager for LIFE SWIPE Nada Tosheva at the Conference opening.

During the 3-days event, the experts had the chance actively participate in a series of practical workshops, panel discussions, and interactive sessions to analyze and improve the different steps that lead to the effective prosecution of wildlife crime. The workshops covered a range of topics – such as the use of newest technologies to detect WLC, useful tools and best practices from different countries, wildlife cybercrime and how to tackle it, and the link between WLC and other crimes, showing how wildlife crimes are detrimental not just to nature and wildlife conservation, but whole counties’ economies and entire human society as well.

Additionally, a specialized wildlife crime dog unit from Andalusia joined the conference, giving the participants an opportunity to observe a practical exercise in poison detection and crime scene discovery and investigation. The conference attendants had the chance to see a sniffer dog in action, observe established in-the-field procedures for securing the crime scene, and learn more about poisoning and poaching in the wild – about the tools and traps poachers and traffickers use, as well as the methods for detection and securing the scene.

Competent authorities and experts across the continent need to work together to successfully combat wildlife crime. Exchanging knowledge and strengthening cross-border cooperation is the necessary step in the right direction. The SWiPE Wildlife Crime Conference in Madrid shows there is goodwill to work together in wildlife crime prevention and reduction, and presents a positive example of how these exchanges can be organized and the collaboration nurtured. This is a positive change, and hopefully the first of many opportunities to work together in building a world that conserves wildlife instead of threatening it.

The Conference was organized as part of the LIFE SWiPE project, which is supported by the European program LIFE. The project aims to discourage, and ultimately reduce the number of wildlife crimes, through better enforcement of environmental regulations and more successfully prosecuted crimes, helping restore the endangered European biological diversity and ecosystem health.
LIFE SWiPE Conference in Madrid

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