Poaching has put on the brink of extinction many species of birds

© Dmitry Rogulin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. Poaching has put on the brink of extinction antelopes-saigas in Kalmykia, critically endangered birds Falcon species, Amur tigers, TASS reported today the Minister of natural resources and ecology of Russia Sergey Donskoy. According to him, the Ministry has developed a bill to toughen penalties for poachers, and strengthen their identification in the Internet, since the online trade in rare animals has become widespread.

“We understand that all traffic went to the Internet. All transactions are made online, and in this regard, intensified efforts,” he said.

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The position of the Ministry in this matter are divided in the regions, considering that the existing articles in the Criminal code of the Russian Federation for poaching need to be tightened .

Earlier the President of Russia Vladimir Putin meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Khloponin instructed to check the implementation of legislation providing for the punishment – up to criminal – hunting for rare animals. According to the Deputy Chairman of the government, to date, “restrictive measures (for the protection of rare animals. – Approx. TASS) already give some positive effect”, for example, in restoring populations of rare animals.

10 million is not a punishment

According to Donskoy, in recent years there have been positive trends in increasing population of the Amur leopard and Amur tiger. “Completed a full count of these animals, which showed that their number is growing. At the moment there are 540 individuals of the Amur tiger and the 80 individuals of the Amur leopard. Enhanced control in protected natural areas to repel all attacks of poachers,” said he.

Poacher-trader was caught three years ago in the act. In the back premises, belonging to him, was discovered a few skins of the tiger, the Himalayan bear and other animal species. He was fined 10 million roubles. We are unhappy with this verdict as we believe that the punishment should be much harsher, up to real imprisonment

Sergey Donskoy
The Minister of natural resources and ecology of the Russian Federation

According to the Minister, the new law introduces some provisions that qualify are all kinds of violations related to poaching. “Now the maximum punishment for killing endangered animals – seven years of imprisonment, we want to extend this to nine years to poachers, who operate in a group of persons on preliminary arrangement”, – said the head of the Ministry.

Donskoy stressed that the current legislation already allows you to prosecute poachers. However, he said, this punishment may not always be severe. As an example, the Minister cited the verdict of the poacher entrepreneur of Primorsky Krai, which was assigned a monetary penalty in the amount of 10 million rubles for the mass shooting of rare animals.

“Poacher-trader was caught three years ago in the act. In the back premises, belonging to him, was discovered a few skins of the tiger, the Himalayan bear and other animal species. The poacher was sentenced to a fine in the amount of 10 million rubles. We are unhappy with this verdict as we believe that the punishment should be much harsher, up to real imprisonment,” – said Donskoy.

Additional protection for tigers

The position of the don in terms of enforcing the law is shared by the Director of the far Eastern branch of ANO “Center “Amur tiger” Sergei Aramilev. According to him, such crimes as illicit trafficking in pelts and body parts of tigers, should be included in the category of moderate severity.

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Aramilev said that poachers should be punished with real prison terms or fines that are many times the cost of tiger parts on the black market. “Poaching is minimized, therefore, we, as legislators, have work to do in terms of tightening the article of the criminal code “Illegal hunting” – said Aramilev.

He noted that the design of the article of the criminal code “does not allow in most cases to use real sentences, so it is necessary to modify”. “Legislation should be tightened, but not only in relation to crimes against the tigers, but also against their prey species, as more complex situation is in the country with the poaching of ungulates. Here it is necessary not only to modify legislation, but to significantly strengthen enforcement of the existing,” – said the expert.

Saigas in Kalmykia Republic on the verge of extinction

The Minister of natural resources of the Russian Federation noted that the activities of poachers put on the brink of extinction antelope-saiga, which live in Kalmykia. According to him, the decision to artificially breed them, as without human intervention can’t do it, and this part has already reached international agreements with partners from other countries. “The number of these animals drastically reduced, as their carcasses are in high demand in China. Saigas are this year included in the Red book,” – said Donskoy.

In turn, Aramilev said that in the Primorsky region continues to be of the opinion that hunting for hoofed animals is not poaching. “A lot of people living in rural and taiga areas, continue to use in everyday life, the meat of wild animals, should significantly limit the possibility of trade in wild meat. Separately can be said about the wild boar, is also an important element of human nutrition and the tiger, it now, in fact, equated to mass hunting species and, in fact, doomed to uncontrolled destruction. The protection of the pig farms from African swine fever are important, but they should not be solved by a wild boar, when infecting pigs in industrial complexes this disease from the wild boar is not proved”, – he said.

The illegal “migration” of rare birds

According to don, difficult situation with endangered species of Falcon birds. “In recent years, was threatened Falcon species of birds, which are in great demand in the Middle East, where falconry is popular. The price of one bird can reach 10 thousand dollars on the black market in the middle East, so they massively illegal export from the territory of Russia”, – he explained.

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The Minister added that the birds are euthanized, and then transported in “cocoons” made of rags. “Very often smuggled out of 10 birds two birds one die. I note that customs employees, the FSB and the interior Ministry force control to identify the living of smuggling, this work gives a positive result,” – said the Agency interlocutor.

The same problem arose with a population of endangered snow leopards in the Altai. According to the project coordinator on biodiversity conservation of the Altai-Sayan branch of the world Fund of protection of wild nature (WWF) Alexandra Karnaukhova, hunting loops that put poachers for the musk deer, killed a large part of snow leopards.

“We are now preparing a letter to the Ministry of natural resources, to consider the possibility of a total ban on hunting musk deer and its export outside the Russian Federation – the only way to stop this situation. Targeted hunting of leopards for skins production is sporadic due to the fact that the standard of living of the population became higher and do not need to take that risk, complicated sales that holds people back. A large part of the leopards that are killed at the hands of poachers – killed in the loops, put on musk deer, prohibited fishing gear,” said Karnaukhov.

According to the ecologist, the ban will help to protect both species – if you completely close the possibility of exporting gland of the male musk deer, which is on her hunt, then the hunt will become meaningless. In the domestic market, according to experts, the jet of musk deer is not in use it is completely in China, so the complete exclusion of sales will become unprofitable for the poachers.

The moratorium on the hunting of musk deer, which are killed and leopards in Altai Krai and the Altai Republic was declared until 31 December 2016, in the meantime information about the new ban no. Karnaukhov said that the number of snow leopards in Russia, according to preliminary estimates, is 70-90 individuals in the Altai on the results of the last year it is estimated at 30 individuals. The ridge Chikhacheva mountain range on the border of Russia and Mongolia is one of the key snow leopard habitats in Russia.

Polar bears away from poachers

While in sight of the poachers get only the endangered polar bears in Chukotka. These are the latest figures patrolling the habitats of the predator on the Arctic coast of the region, conducted with the assistance of the police. “Annually up to 260 offshore activities in the habitats of the polar bear, is tested up to 360 people, in 2016, viewed by up to 120 buildings and vehicles. The environmental activities of illegal polar bear hunting is not revealed”, – told TASS Deputy head of the protection and use of fauna of the government of the Chukotka district Yegor Vereshchagin.

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According to him, the region is implementing a strategy for the conservation of the polar bear, in which heads of district municipalities recommendations on preventing conflicts with predators. Including recommended to establish a continuous street illumination illumination of places of people in a dark time of day and polar night. Abandoned buildings should be preserved.

According to Vereshchagin, the reason for the increase in conflict situations with polar bears is shrinking living space Alaska-Chukotka population of the predator. Scientists say that since 1990, there has been a weakening of the ice cover in the Chukchi and East Siberian seas. As a consequence, during the absence or instability of ice cover, bears are moving to land lifestyle and close to human settlements. In 2015 to develop recommendations on behavior when meeting with the bears and to prevent further animals from human habitation, scientists have initiated a research, whose main goal – the creation of a database conflict.

The regional government instructed the Department of industrial and agricultural policy of the Chukotka in the current year to work with municipal authorities of Chukotka, offered by specialists of prevention of conflict situations “man – polar bear”.

Work on the enthusiasm

Donskoy stressed that the protection of endangered animals largely depends not only on tightening legislation but also on the work of the inspectors in the national parks and nature reserves, while inspectors work in conditions of little monetary compensation, on enthusiasm. According to Karnaukhova, one of the problems in the regions of the Russian Federation, in particular, in the Altai Republic – the lack of state inspectors.

“For example, in the Kosh-Agach district, which occupies almost a fifth of the region one inspector – he is not physically able to patrol the whole of this vast territory. Therefore, the vast majority of poaching cases is unsettled. Many inspectors do not know how to make records – they have no legal education – once, when the device does not work, they this point showed. Everything depends on the fact that the Protocol is wrong and this is the reason not to initiate a criminal case”, – said Karnaukhov.