5th Dinaric-Balkan-Pindos Large Carnivore Initiative Meeting

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The Dinaric-Balkan-Pindos Large Carnivore Initiative (DiBaPi), a regional collaboration platform focused on wildlife management, held its fifth meeting at the Ministry of Environment and Water in Sofia, Bulgaria from 11-13 June 2024.

The event brought together key stakeholders from across the region to discuss strategies for the conservation and management of large carnivores, such as the brown bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), including the endangered Balkan lynx (Lynx lynx balcanicus).

The DiBaPi initiative aims to facilitate transnational coordination to ensure the long-term conservation of large carnivores in the Dinaric-Balkan-Pindos biodiversity hotspot.

By linking stakeholders and governments, the platform encourages open exchange and collaboration on ongoing projects, addressing both day-to-day issues and long-term strategies. The initiative also focuses on sharing best practices in large carnivore management.

The meeting was organised by the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water and the Bulgarian Forest Agency in collaboration with the EU Platform of Coexistence with People and Large Carnivores and the Bern Convention Secretariat. It was supported by the Union of Hunters and Anglers in Bulgaria and WWF Adria.

Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia were among the countries represented as part of the discussions.

The CIC took part in the proceedings with CIC Project Coordinator Thomas Paulic in attendance. As part of the organisation’s interventions, the need to utilise and leverage trophy evaluation data to inform large carnivore management was emphasised to attendees.

To facilitate this, discussions have been held on the introduction of geo-location data, import of third-party databases and automated checks to the CIC Trophy Evaluation Database (TED), which should enhance the TED’s ability to inform wildlife research.

The introduction of such features would support the recently adopted 2030 CIC Strategic Plan, particularly its alignment with Global Biodiversity Framework Target 21 (Ensure Knowledge Is Available) and one of the CIC’s newly identified Global Priorities, “Applied Science for Nature-Based Leadership.”

The event also featured presentations from the organisers and the European Commission, focusing on updates in large carnivore management. Key topics included livestock and land use conflicts, financing, and the role of hunters in conservation efforts. Participants also discussed best practices in managing large carnivores.

The platform’s discussion focused on collecting and analysing different countries’ approaches to large carnivore management, including protection status, monitoring, management plans, compensation/prevention, and intervention teams.

A clear outcome of the deliberations was the importance of involving hunters at the onset of management plans and projects, from data collection and monitoring to emergency interventions.

Participants agreed that real progress could only be made if hunters and conservation organisations work together, not in parallel. Future meetings will aim to explore the pros and cons of managing large carnivore species by species and country by country, considering the different stakeholders.

The DiBaPi platform continues to be a vital forum for regional collaboration on large carnivore management. By promoting open dialogue and cooperation among stakeholders, the initiative is making significant strides in ensuring the conservation and sustainable management of iconic species across national borders.