Participants from Bulgarian institutions graduated from the Wildlife Crime Academy

May 12, 2023
Academy training
More than 40 participants from 9 European countries have graduated in the third and final grade of the Wildlife Crime Academy which took place in Malaga, Spain in April 2023. 

This innovative training aims to build the capacity for prosecution and prevention of wildlife crimes. Three Bulgarian participants (2 inspectors from the Ministry of the Interior and Elin Aleksov from the Association of Prosecutors in Bulgaria) took part in all of the grades of the Academy.

The participants in the Academy are the first experts who are qualified in this specific filed of criminology. The groundbreaking training is expected to have a significant impact on prosecuting and convicting wildlife criminals. The participants also honed their skills in profiling suspects and understanding criminal behaviour through practical exams on criminal signatures and case linkage. The theory section covered topics such as Forensic Psychology, Crime Analysis and Criminal Profiling. Participants learned about Behavioral Evidence Analysis methodology and how Intelligence can prevent crime and aid investigations, especially when dealing with organised crime and international networks involved in wildlife poisoning and illegal trade. The training was concluded with a final exam, a unique exercise where participants had to inspect the contents of a trash bag to gather information and create profiles of suspects.

“Europe has gained 44 new experts in Wildlife Crime Investigation and Analysis from nine countries. We are impressed by their unwavering dedication to combatting wildlife crime and trust that their expertise will make a real difference in preventing illegal wildlife mortality and supporting conservation efforts. Our Wildlife Crime Academy participants have already achieved the first-ever conviction for illegal wildlife poisoning in Cyprus.”

 - Jovan Andevski, Programmes Manager at the Vulture Conservation Foundation and coordinator of the Wildlife Crime Academy

Academy's series of three intense training courses have not only filled critical knowledge gaps but have also transformed attitudes towards wildlife crime, elevating it as a serious crime among competent authorities. 

Tailored to professionals from diverse academic disciplines working in conservation, law enforcement and forensic science, the training equips participants with the necessary skills to lead investigations, manage teams and elevate the motivational level of relevant stakeholders. Following internationally recognised procedures from Junta de Andalucía and a syllabus designed by specialists with over 15 years of experience, along with contributions from Europol, the Wildlife Crime Academy's courses are at the forefront of cutting-edge knowledge and practices.

“By combining Crime Scene Investigation (CSI), forensic science and judicial processes, we have achieved an 80% reduction in illegal wildlife poisoning incidents in Andalusia over the span of 15 years. With the right procedures, perseverance and collaboration, we are confident that our participants can achieve comparable results in their own countries. 

- Iñigo Fajardo, Head of the Protected Species Department at the Junta de Andalucía and one of the Wildlife Crime Academy’s professors

We, at the BSPB are convinced that the experts who took part in the Academy’s training will contribute to the detecting of the criminal offences against the nature in Bulgaria and thus will support the conservation of the biodiversity and the protected species in the country.

The Academy is organised by the Vulture Conservation Foundation and the Junta de Andalucía as part of the EU-funded BalkanDetox LIFE and LIFE with Vultures projects. The participation of the Bulgarian experts is funded by BSPB within the activities of the Life for Falcons project (LIFE20 NAT/BG/1162), funded by the LIFE Programme.

Photos: WCF