From: Patris Pustina
Impunity for Poachers of Critically Endangered Species Condemned by Conservation Group

The Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe (LCIE) has called upon Albanian authorities to ensure poachers are brought to justice, as specimens of the critically endangered Balkan lynx remain under constant risk of extinction as a result of illegal killing and institutional impunity.

In May 2020, the Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) organization learned of a recently killed Balkan lynxed, that was on display, alongside two other taxidermied Balkan lynx, as well as brown bear and roe deer specimens, both protected by the law, in a central Albania restaurant. The restaurant’s menu also offered wild game dishes, despite the current nation-wide hunting moratorium.

The Balkan lynx is a Critically Endangered species that currently lives and reproduces only in Mavrovo Park in North Macedonia, and the Munella mountain, and, as of April 2020, Polis-Gur i Zi-Valamare mountains, in Albania.

PPNEA reported the case to the Tirana Prosecution Office on June 5, and provided photographic evidence of the taxidermied lynx, but no concrete action was taken by the authorities.

Comparisons made between pictures taken of the taxidermied lynx and camera-trap footage and pictures by PPNEA confirmed that the individual was indeed part of the tiny local Elbasan region Balkan lynx population.

Though the Ministry of Tourism and Environment called an urgent meeting on June 23, following an expose article concerning the poaching of Albanian lynx appeared in the French daily Liberation, authorities remain apathetic, and no one has been charged, let alone punished, for this crime that incurs up to 7 years in prison per the Albanian criminal code.

The Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme reports that 14 Balkan lynx have been killed since 2006, a number LCIE deems alarming, considering the extremely small size of the population. The loss of a single individual, LCIE warns, may endanger the survival of the entire Balkan lynx population.