Have you met ORCA?


Have you met ORCA?

22 June 2023
Each month, we interview one of our member organisations about their work, main battles and achievements for animals. This month, we have the pleasure of interviewing Jelena Ilic, Project Manager at ORCA.

Tell us about your organisation?

ORCA is a non-profit organisation that has been working for over 20 years in the fields of animal welfare and nature conservation in Serbia and the Western Balkans. We achieve our mission through public advocacy, research, education and monitoring the implementation of policies and regulations. We influence the adoption of better laws, their implementation and changes in attitudes to nature and animals.

You can find our key achievements here.

In which countries do you work?

ORCA is based in Serbia, but is also present in the Western Balkans region, maintaining contacts, running projects involving partners in Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, Albania and the Kosovo region, and funding initiatives run by organisations throughout the Western Balkans region.

Tell us more about you and your role?

My name is Jelena Ilic and I work as a project manager at ORCA. My current role is to coordinate the various activities carried out by ORCA and, until recently, I was also in charge of grants to help organisations implement their projects to protect animals and nature. I became a volunteer 21 years ago (during my high school years :) ) because I wanted to help animals in need. I knew from childhood that this was something I wanted to do with my life.

Jelena Illic

When and why did you join Eurogroup for Animals?

ORCA joined Eurogroup for Animals in 2013. We were honoured to become a member as we see Eurogroup for Animals as a respected and inspiring organisation that is boldly leading Europe towards better animal welfare.

As Serbia is a candidate country for EU membership, being a member provided us with much-needed information on current trends and initiatives related to animal welfare in the EU, which our country should also follow.

What are your organisations main achievements?

ORCA's key achievements in 2022 :

  • 17 animal welfare and nature conservation activists and members of civil society organisations trained and mentored as part of a year-long training and mentoring programme. At the end of the programme, participants were left with their own fully developed project, ready to present to donors.
  • Ecological research conducted with the aim of identifying the species and genetic diversity of pollinators in different types of habitats in Serbia. The results of this research will provide evidence that we will use to develop recommendations for pollinator protection policies in Serbia. Currently, only one pollinator species is protected in Serbia, the honey bee, for economic reasons. We want to protect all pollinators in Serbia - bees, butterflies and hoverflies - and inform the public about the important ecosystem service they provide - pollination, without which we wouldn't have many of the foods we enjoy - including coffee, chocolate and strawberries (to name but a few).
  • An internet platform dedicated to the connection between culture and nature has been developed. The aim of this platform is to inform visitors about the links between human and nature through culture. It shows that nature inspires and shapes our culture.

How can people support you?

The public can support ORCA by taking part in our campaigns, petitions, etc. and by making donations to ORCA via our website.

Words to live by?

For in the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” - Baba Dioum

This quote reminds us that as animal protection and nature conservation organisations, we must first and foremost teach people to love animals and nature, reminding them of the inherent bond we all share.