The number of some animal species listed in the Tajikistan’s Red Data Book has increased. However, poaching remains a problem.
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In early July 2020, in Shamsiddin Shohin district of the southern Khatlon region of Tajikistan, a citizen was detained for illegal hunting. The poacher was caught in the act. The carcass of a two-year-old markhor was already dressed.
The Committee for Environmental Protection under the Government of Tajikistan reported that the man was not able to explain the reasons for killing the animal.
The animal’s horns attract both poachers and licensed hunters. Usually, the old animals are chosen for hunting. The horns of males can grow up to 1.5 meters and above, and females have short horns of only 20 centimeters. Most often, they are killed for meat.
There is a widespread legend that markhors search and eat snakes, so their meat is the antidote. Translated from Tajik, “mor” is a snake, and “khur” is “to eat”.
This is the second officially registered poaching case in Tajikistan in 2020.
Previously, this February, law enforcement agencies detained a man in GBAO, who carried the carcass of Marco Polo sheep in his car. The damage caused by the poacher is estimated at 232 thousand somoni (around $23 200). Where he was carrying the killed animal and how much he wanted for it is not clear.
Officially, the hunting season in Tajikistan starts in September and lasts until March. Hunting for Himalayan brown bears lasts until August 31. However, their killing is allowed “in cases of threat to citizens and damage to the national economy”.
According to Rahmonali Mahmadali, specialist at the Department of State Control of the Usage and Protection of Herbs and Animals under the Committee for Environmental Protection, this year, the number of quotas for hunting was not yet determined, since these licenses are usually issued before the season’s start, in August. The total number of licenses for legal hunting remains the same in recent years. In 2019, hunting the following animals was allowed:Killing for the Sake of Species Conservation
The Red Data Book of Tajikistan includes 222 endangered animal species. Of these, 43 are birds, 44 are mammals, 31 are reptiles, 14 are fish, 81 are insects and 9 species of molluscs.
The most popular species for hunting live in the mountainous areas.
22% of the republic’s territory includes 4 nature reserves, 13 wildlife areas (zakazniks), 1 national park, 1 historical and natural park and 1 natural park. Hunting on the reserves’ territory is strictly prohibited.
[If the killing of an animal took place in the protected nature reserve, the fines grow significantly. The fine’s amount starts from 580,000 somoni ($56,311) and the violator is punished with imprisonment of up to 3 years]
Both the state and hunting areas are interested in increasing the number of species listed in the Red Data Book.
The joint work on controlling and preserving the populations of endangered species and protection of their habitat resulted in the significant growth of the number of some species of mountain ungulates.
Over the past 10 years, the markhor population has grown. Ten years ago, it was endangered, but today, according to monitoring by the Committee for Environmental Protection, more than 1,300 markhors live in the country. The number of Siberian ibex has also increased: now there are about 40,000 ibexes, and almost 10,000 argalis.
The wild population of the snow leopard around the world is from three to seven thousand. Of these, only 156 snow leopards live in Tajikistan. Killing this animal is strictly prohibited.
In the republic, there was no illegal hunters wishing to get the skin of this wild animal for a long time. In the regions, the authorities encourage local residents to inform about suspicious hunters. Even when these animals attack livestock, residents do not kill these animals, but turn to the Committee’s offices and hunting areas for help.
Local media reported such case last autumn, when in the Razuch village in Bartang Valley of GBAO, a snow leopard killed twelve sheep and goats. The residents trapped the animal, and then released it. The authorities compensated the damage caused by the animal from the Red Data Book.
“The legal trophy hunting is one of the most powerful drivers for the preservation of wild animals, it finances the prevention of animals killing for meat,” the Association of Nature Conservation Organizations of Tajikistan believes.
The world’s largest population of Bukhara Red deer lives in the Tigrovaya Balka State Nature Reserve. There are 386-400 of them. The Committee’s ecologists believe that this is a critical figure for this territory. For the population growth, the planned killing of these animals is necessary.
“Deer over 12 years old are not benefiting to a healthy future population, but they are attractive for the trophy hunting,” said Ubaid Akramov, Deputy Head of the Specially Protected Territories government agency under the Committee for Environmental Protection.
He proposes to organize the selective hunting for these animals to ensure the stability of the species. Considering the latest monitoring of the Committee, annually, it is possible to kill up to 20 adult deer, which will be a good investment to the budget and will help preserving the ecosystem, as the official believes.
Annually, during six months of the hunting season, the income from licensed hunting for only four species of rare animals can amount to about 6-7 million somoni (about $600-700 thousand).
According to the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Hunting and Hunting Areas”, 40% of these funds are transferred to a special account of the self-government bodies of the villages from the location of the captured animal. 20% is transferred to a special fund for protected natural territories, 40% is transferred to a special account of an authorized state body for performing work related to the protection, monitoring and restoration of the populations of wild animals.
The funds from hunting that are transferred to the Committee are spent on environmental activities, including carrying out biotechnical work, feeding the herbivores and predators.
The license for hunting Marco Polo sheep costs from 55,000 somoni ($5,400), and the fine for the illegal killing of an animal is about 210,000 somoni ($20,388). A license for hunting markhor costs 220,000 somoni ($21,359), and the fine for the illegal killing is about 420,000 somoni ($40,770).
In addition to fines, the poachers are liable to the law, according to the country’s Criminal Code. Investigative measures are taken, the employees of the Committee for Environmental Protection assess the damage, the amount of which depends on the type of the killed animal.
The fight against poaching in the country in recent years was successful thanks to coordinated joint work at all control levels. Local residents, rangers from the hunting areas, local police departments, Committee employees, associations of hunters, associations of nature conservation organizations of Tajikistan help in this fight. The rangers and residents who live near the habitats of rare animals patrol the area and report cases of the violations to the law enforcement agencies.