Smuggling of Wild Animals Persists in Balkan Region

Smuggling of Wild Animals Persists in Balkan Region

The illicit trade of wild and rare animals remains a pressing issue in the Balkan region, as evidenced by a recent incident in northern Serbia.

On September 21, 2023, a lion cub was discovered wandering on a local road near Subotica, a town situated near the Hungarian border.

This incident sheds light on the pervasive problem of wildlife smuggling in the region, as well as the dire circumstances faced by these majestic creatures.

The lion cub, a female who was only a few months old, was in a horrible state when she was found.

Malnourished and weak, it was apparent that the cub had faced significant challenges in the wild. Fortunately, a Subotica resident spotted her on the road and promptly alerted the police.

Authorities intervened swiftly, ensuring the cub’s safety and its transfer to the Palic Zoo in the region.

Upon arrival at the Palic Zoo, the lion cub was examined by Sonja Mandic, a representative of the zoo. She noted that the cub was in “pretty poor shape” and immediately initiated necessary medical treatment.

This included rehydration through infusion and nutritional Support to improve the cub’s condition. Mandic stated that it was challenging to determine the cub’s exact age due to its malnourished and possibly underdeveloped state, but it was clear that the animal needed urgent care and attention.

Reports indicated that the lion cub displayed an unusual degree of friendliness and did not appear to be afraid of humans. Video footage circulating on social media showed the cub emerging from the grass and confidently stepping onto the road. In other videos and photos, police officers and residents could be seen interacting with the cub, offering it affection and comfort.

While the circumstances surrounding this lion cub’s appearance on a Serbian road remain unclear, it underscores a broader issue: the illicit trade of wild and rare animals in the Balkan region.

A report by the World Wildlife Fund on wildlife crime in the area revealed alarming trends. Songbirds from the finch family, locally protected brown bears, and forest turtles were among the most targeted species in Serbia.

Furthermore, cases involving the smuggling and illegal possession of exotic species, such as pythons, are disturbingly common.

In 2020, investigative efforts exposed the rampant illegal wildlife trade in Eastern Europe. This report raised concerns among conservationists that smugglers may be exploiting countries in Eastern Europe with less stringent law enforcement to avoid scrutiny.

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This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 27 September 2023. Image Credit :Manoj Kumar Tuteja/Shutterstock.

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