Europe and Central Asia
27 Oct 2014

New measures to tackle bird trafficking in Greece stop an illegal trader

Buzzard, by Shay Connolly
By Alessia Calderalo

At the crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe, Greece has seen a lot of illegal wildlife trade, normally for falconry but also for private collections. Despite the efforts of environmental NGOs, this trade is growing and conservationists are constantly seeking new ways to tackle the issue and involve the authorities.

This situation led HOS, BirdLife in Greece, to take action and coorganise together with WWF Greece a series of seminars within the LIFE+ project “The return of the Neophron” to address the issue. The ones held at five border checkpoints in Evros and Rodopi prefectures were organised by WWF Greece and aimed to teach 13 custom officers and 25 policemen how to identify these illegal traders, thus becoming more active in the detection of wildlife crime.

These seminars proved very successful: only five months later, the officers called the team to tell them that a raptor had been found in a car arriving from Turkey. “We were delighted with the quick response of the custom officers who called us to identify the bird”, said the organisers of the seminars, who promptly sent a representative from the Forest Service to assess the situation.

The traveller, who was on his way to England from Turkey, had a Long-legged buzzard but had no rings or papers to prove its origin. The traveller was fined 768 euros by customs and 1500 euros by the Forest Service, and was jailed for 20 days for his attempted smuggling.

This was the first time that customs officers in Evros have reported raptor trafficking and hopefully this will increase barriers to smuggling.

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