From: Alice Taylor
Albanian Court Criticised for Failing to Prosecute Balkan Lynx Poaching Case

A judge in Elbasan has been criticised for failing to investigate the killing of an endangered Balkan lynx in the region in 2020.

The lynx was killed, embalmed, and exhibited in the “Ke Rrema” restaurant in the central Albanian city. The Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) denounced the case in June 2020 but the Court of the First Instance in Elbasan dismissed the case following a request from the prosecutor due to a lack of evidence.

PPNEA said the prosecutor argued that a photo of the anima on display in the restaurant could not be considered as evidence as it did not have a timestamp on it and that an inspection of the premises found no stuffed lynx on site.

Despite presenting other evidence to the prosecution, PPNEA said these were ignored, and the subsequent decision is a disregard for wildlife.

In a press release, the PPNEA said that at least 14 lynx have been poached in Albania since 2006. This is a very high figure considering the entire population is estimated at less than 50.

They call on the Albanian authorities to redress the case and consider all the evidence provided, adding that the situation is dire for the Balkan lynx and such instances must be prevented from happening again in the future.

“The critical status of the Balkan lynx entails that the loss of even a single individual can jeopardise the survival of the entire population. Maximum effort should be taken for the law to adequately addresses poaching cases, to minimise the risk of such occurrences happening again in the future, thereby bringing the Balkan lynx one step closer to extinction,” they wrote.

In addition, they reminded the authorities that the failure to deal with environmental crimes seriously violates the Bern Convention. Additionally, it notes that the European Commission has previously highlighted the issue of killing Balkan lynxes and Albania’s failure to pursue such cases in the courts.

“Which violates the fulfillment of environmental criteria for the country’s association, in the European Union,” the statement reads.