Europe and Central Asia
18 Nov 2014

Serbian Bird Crime Task Force working to put an end to illegal bird trade

Woodlark, by Vladimir Dobretic
By Alessia Calderalo

Many bird species in Serbia are subject to poaching and captivity for commercial reasons.

Autumn and especially winter are not particularly welcoming seasons for many bird species, reason why they fly across the world to escape inclement. Sadly, small passerines and other similar bird species in Serbia will not be as lucky, as many of them are subject to poaching and captivity for commercial reasons.

The Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia (BPSSS; BirdLife Partner), counts on the support of its Bird Crime Task Force to help tackle this worrying issue. In 2014, this Task Force assisted environmental inspectors and the Serbian police at two fairs in the city of Pančevo, on the banks of the Danube and Tamiš rivers.

These events have become a place for the hidden trade of wild birds, including many migratory species, and they take place all over Serbia. Traders attend these fairs under the pretext of being bird lovers. However, in 2014 three people were detained for the possession of 111 wild birds according to Milan Ružić, vice-president of BPSSS.

After arresting these three criminals, the next step will be raising public awareness to stress the seriousness of these activities. Currently, it is not unusual to find advertisements in Serbia displaying the sale of wild protected species. Also there is evidence that some poachers are killing the female birds, because “females do not sing”.

A more sophisticated and continuous surveillance is urgently required at these types of public events, where illegal activities often occur. BPSSS, with its Bird Crime Task Force, will continue to work with the police and environmental inspectors in preventing wild bird crime in Serbia.

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