Boom in illegal trade in animals in Albania

Despite a ban on hunting, numerous wild animals are being killed or traded in Albania; stuffed Balkan lynx, brown bears in cages, wild game on the menu are just a few examples.

Bear in a cage

Like this brown bear, many of this species spend their lives in captivity.

© PPNEA

In Albania, the live animal trade is out of control. There are numerous markets across the country selling native species such as the brown bear, fox and various birds of prey as well as exotics like monkeys. It is a profitable business with high three-figure sums changing hands. The buyers are mainly restaurant and hotel proprietors who keep the animals in degrading conditions as an “attraction”.

In addition to this, many restaurants also openly offer wild game on the menu. This ranges from venison and wild boar to turtle and brown bear – a heavily protected species protected in Europe. A ban on hunting has been in force in Albania since 2014, something that EuroNatur and its partners in Albania had long worked towards. The fact that the hunting ban is being so openly flouted shows that there is a yawning gulf between the introduction of legislation and its enforcement.

In the Albanian town of Elbasan, our partners at PPNEA also discovered two stuffed Balkan lynx in a restaurant. It is thought that there are no more than ten examples of this critically endangered subspecies of lynx in the whole country. Another animal was due to be shot and given the same treatment for the restaurant. PPNEA has pressed charges against the restaurant owner with the public prosecution department. However, the proceedings are very drawn out. Killing a Balkan lynx is a criminal offence which can incur a sentence of up to seven years in jail.

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