On the 12 of November I visited and spoke on the meeting of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, chaired by the Deputy Minister Ivan Valentik. The questions about the trophy hunt in Russia were discussed. The theme about funding of the protection and study of the rare animals at the expense of the limited hunt on these species was raised. We recon this them as relevant, and this hunt – rational. However, I would like to start from the different topic – from the project of the Club of the Mountain Hunters devoted to introduction of Chamois to the Krimea mountains. I was speaking about this topic on the meeting.
In my humble opinion, to the date (my friends-hunters agree with this point of view) a pleasant situation emerged to take care about the future, make the third step in filling of the Russian forests, mountains and plains by the hunting species of animals. But not for the soon hunt on them. I speak about long-termed future investments in to the remote future. Why this is the third step? I might be wrong, but the first step, as I know, has been done by the Glavohota RSFSR, which was spreading the animals of the hunting species at the Soviet period – wild boars, deers, beavers and other species along the suitable areas within USSR. Populations of the spotted deers, which are hunted in Tverskaya, Vladimiskaya, Moscow Districts and other central areas were established by the work of Glavohota in the European part of the country.
The musk ox has been introduced to the Yakutia, Yamal and Taymir. Tofay it is stable populations, which may be taken partly and spread to the other regions. The works on the introduction and reintroduction (it was called acclimatization and reacclimatization at the Soviet period) started as sson as the Second World War ended. However, we may see the fruit of this work even now, which, unfortunately, finished when the USSR fell apart.
The second step, in my point of view, were the investments primary of the private and partly social hunting organizations in to the reproduction of the hunting animals. Though this work was held and takes place within the borders of the particular lands, it is impossible not to notice, that these lands are not surrounded by the fences and natural migrations of the animals beyond the borders take place naturally. Beaver expansion is very illustrative. These animals make some problems to the road crews, foresters and agriculture.
However, the hunters didn’t stop on the simple feeding and curing of the animals. Enclosures with hoofed animals and safari parks started to appear in the country. In 2015 year (NN10,11) the magazine told in details about one very advanced deer park “Mushkino”, which is placed not far from Kaliningrad.
The idea, as the one say, flies in the sky. Recently we reported, that the member of presidency of CMH Igor Dontsov rented the Zavyalov island for 49 years, which is placed not far from Magadan. He introduced here 25 musk oxes from Yakutia. There are mountains on the island, where the Snow Sheep and reindeer are planned to be brought and bred. We observed wales and a herd of sea-lions on the seashore when passed by the helicopter. A spawning river is present on the island, where Igor planes to build ECO hotel for the visitors were able to enjoy the beauty of the local nature, take pictures, catch the fish and have a rest. And now I would like to bring the attention of the readers that no hunt is planned on the island. Only in case if the regulation of the number of reintroduced animals is required. And it may take place not earlier than in 10-15 years. Probably more. Igor makes the investment in to the future, as it has been done by Glavohota in the past. I notice, that the level of consciousness of the hunters evolves. It can be seen on the example of the Club of the Mountain Hunters, at the heart of which projects, which have nothing with the trophy hunt or maybe even with the hunt in general are developed. Today we can and have to invest these breakthrough projects. We have, because the government is not able to do it due to different reasons. Have to, because the “Red book” doesn’t solve the problems of the reducing of the number of species, which are included in to this book. Have to, because we are the citizens of our country. We have to think about the biodiversity and about the things, we leave to the next generations. That is why in 2019 year the CMH wants to start several programmes on the study and restore of the populations of several species of the mountain species and reintroduction of the one species in to tha suitable area with proper conditions.
I am going to start from the last idea, which we were speaking about in the Ministry of Nature of the Russian Federation. The speech is about the creating of Chamois population in the Krimea. According to the opinion of the scientists, who study mountain hoofed-animals, Krimea mountains are ideal for this animal. European Mouflon has been introduced on the southern shore of Krimea at the time. There is no objective knowledge about the number of it’s population, because these kind of works were not held during the Ukrainian possession of the Krimea. Moreover, it is difficult to count the animals within the forest without snow. However, it is known, that Mouflon absorbed, what means that the conditions were suitable enough for this species. A great hope is present, that Chamois will like the conditions as well. By the way, it is not going to compete with Mouflon, because it prefers mountain landscapes with cliffs. Competition with the cattle for the pastures is not foreseen, because there is no cattle-breeding in the areas of the Krimea mountains, which are suitable for Chamois. No hesitations, that the scientific work and understanding of all questions, including expediency and the practical abilities of the project realizations must be done at first. It is especially important, when the question about the introduction of the new for the area species is raized.
For sure, the Chamois would be not dangerous competitor of the animals, which are already inhabit the southern shore of Krimea, but an addition to them. It should be understood, that a strict ban on the hunt of this animal will last for 20 years. At least for the time, when it will be clear that a stable and constantly developing population is established. Though. Only next generations of the hunters will discuss this question.
Two more projects of the Club are devoted to reintroduction. The Bezoar Ibex is placed in to the “Red book” to the date. This species inhabited all the territories of the Caucasus mountains in the past. Due to different reasons, which are more hypothetical, it disappeared almost everywhere. Nowadays, the stable populations of this animal in our country stayed only in Ingushetiya, Chechnya, and in the part of Dagestan.
We want to try to renew the population of Bezoar Ibex on the territories, where it is absent now, but was before. The stuff of the Kabardino-Balkaria and Ossetia-Alania hunting societies supported this idea enthusiastically.
The program suggests catshing of the alive animals with the correct age and sex structure. The speech is not about one or two individuals. An optimal group suitable for the reintroduction should be caught. The number of this group must be defined by the specialists. Obviously, such aprogramm requires serious scientific work – if there are suitable conditions for such an introduction today, aren’t there are any limitations? That is why we plan to invite the experienced scientists and experts. National and foreigners as well. In the case if the preliminary work will support the expediency of the project, we will move it. The work will be quite laborious and costly. I want to specify one more time: we are not going to do it because we are going to ask the permission for the hunt tomorrow. This is very long-lasted project as well.
One more interesting odea, which was suggested by the Irkutsk scientists is devoted to Argali. Today, as it is known, this animal inhabits within the limited number in Altai and listed in the “Red book”. The excavations on Baikal peninsula Olkhon demonstrated that Argali lived there. It’s range was relatively large and reached almost Tuva. Today Olkhon - is a Specially Protected Natural Area, which is naturally separated at the warm part of the year, hence, it is possible to try to resurrect Argali population here. According to the data of the Minostry of Nature And Resources of Russian Federation, the number of these animals in Russia raises and there are about 1200 animals in comparison with 600 in the last year. Capture of some alive animals shouldn’t make the real impact on the population number. In case if due to some reasons it will be difficult to take the animals in Russia, we are going to discuss this question win colleagues from Mongolia. About the scientific part of the work: we were supported by the Irkutsk school of nature rangers. It will be important and vivid work of the scientists and students.
We should say, that these three projects is only a beginning. There are a lot of plans and ideas in future. For example, why do the Ural Mountains lack of hoofed animals? Probably, introduction and reintroduction should be done there as well? But before we are going to stop on the listed projects and see how it is going. For us 2019 year in this sense – is a year of breaking through projects. Of course, these are not the projects of the single year. The period of the start of such a programs is about 2-3 years. Scientific data collection and it’s procession and estimation by the experts will be established at first and only then the catching of the animals and release in to the nature with monitoring.
The readers might be qurious about the sources of funding for these projects. First of all, it should be said, that we don’t spek about the budget money. Many members of our club are eager to invest in to these projects. I have no doubt, that the umber of willing people, who want to support our ideas will be even more. We are not going to make obstacles for the aside charity. I will promise, that the funding will be fully opened and we will report about the each rouble, invested in to the listed projects.
I would like to take the attention of the readers on the fact, that such a project initiate the hunting organizations. We are not a pioneers in this area. The hunters create the funds, make auctions where they sell hunts on the rare species of animals for study and breeding of these animals all over the World. The las auction held in the USA, where the “Green” move is much more powerfull than in Russia, the hunt on one of the rare species of Bighorn Sheeps was sold for 300 000 US Dollars! These money will be spend on the study of rare animals. One of the fresh examples – Tajikistan and Pakistan, where the great results were achieved in preservation and the following increasing of the number of Markhors because of the opened limited hunt on these species. In the past, these animals were under the pressure of uncontrolled hunt by the locals, which had low income. CIC and CITES initiated the program accepted by the Pakistan government. The main point of it was that the local societies were given 12 permits per year for taking of these trophy animals and priority in distribution of the money from the hunt sells between the local societies. Taking in account, that the cost of the Markhor hunt is about 150 000 USA Dollars for today, local population requalified from the illegal hunters to the devoted protectors of these animals from the predators and illegal hunters.
The same has been done in Tajikistan, where the hunt for Markhors and Bukhar Urial for the long time was prohibited and they were listed in the “Red book” and were protected especially in the Nature reserves. However, there was no real result in the passive work. Finally, the government started to give the lands in to the hunt use and started to sell limited right on the hunt on these rare animals and made an economical tool for stimulation of the investments in to protection and breeding. As a result, the number of the Markhor in Tajikistan is estimated as 1900 animals for now. When CITES analyzed the work of the on the hunting lands, it legalized the export of 6-9 Markhors from the country from the 2014 year.
I am going to give another one example. After the many-year limitation on the Argali hunt, the government of Kazakhstan decided this year to give 3 permits, which will be put on the annual auction SCI (International Club Safari, USA). The organizers guarantee the starting price from the 100 000 US Dollars per permission. It may be only suggested, what height will achieve the final cost, but I think, that it will be 200-250 000 US Dollars. The population in Kazakhstan is estimated in 16 000 animals. And, of course, limited hunt can’t make any harm. At the same time, trophy hunt will attract significant investment in to the protection and study of Argali.
According to this, I would like to say several words about the hunt on the rare species of the animals, what has been announced in the first part of the present article.
Such a theme mentioned in the traditional nature protection idea sounds like something blasphemous. However, the thought that, probably, the hunt, even limited, may be legalized leads to the almost hysterics in the minds of the inert thinking people. But when the speech is about the positive experience abroad – it is taken as it is, calm. But it is impossible to make something like that in our country. To tell the truth, this kind of hunt breaks the stereotypes and suggests new and effective mechanism of the fast increasing of the number of rare animals.
On the meeting in the Ministry of the Nature Protection, which I was speaking before, were the members of the nature protection organizations, who told that budget funding on the protection, monitoring and study of the rare animals (besides several totem animals like the tiger, Far East leopard and Snow leopard) is obviously not enough.
There is some work with animals belonging to the red lists in the Nature reserves, but mostly enthusiastic, because the money are enough et least for the salary of the stuff and the household requires.
The question about the pilot project devoted to the Putoran Sheep has been raised. The situation which formed with this project desires better. But not because the project is bad, but due to the society, which didn’t hear us, what I told on the meeting. The society heard those, who published in the more accessible for the people mass media, but doesn’t know the details of the project of, driving by the cooperative interests, interpret them in the perverted form, or brings to the society one-sided information. As a result – the society heard only one side – the side of the opponents of the project. However, we didn’t put the hands down. I plan to organize the public press-conference and tell about the aims of the project and about the things, which stay behind our idea – about the scientific part and about those people, who will make it; about the funding of this work. One of the participants of the meeting suggested, that on some of the endangered species they work with large companies, including oil ones. These companies do not ask anything in return, but the CMH askes 6 Sheeps secretly. I objected that there is nothing hidden there. We say straightly that we would like to receive 6 permits (two per year) because this is the idea, which gave the positive result in the other countries and which, I am sure, will become the main in the business of protection of rare animals and the traditional approaches of the breeding of the rare animals will be changed.
First of all, we should say, that the program was born after that, when the Putoran Nature reserve asked us to assist in the estimation of the range of the Putoran Snow Sheep, which spread far beyond the area of the nature reserve. If there is some work is held within the nature reserve, monitoring is totally absent beyond it’s borders. The “Putoran project” suggests taking part of the Taymir Nature reserves, scientific department of the Ministry of Nature Protection of Russian Federation and the Club of the Mountain Hunters.
We have to read the petitions of some totally incompetence people, that the study of the animal, including DNA analysis is possible to make by the fur or faeces, without the kill. But here what is proclaimed by the experienced scientific expert:
“The taken animal gives to the biological science more material, than the study of the alive immobilized animal. The taken animal gives the opportunity to make the full analysis of the external and internal parazites, including those, which are taken from the different organs, make the full morphological analysis of the tissues, including the skeleton, physiological state, study the microflora and feeding full enough, make the measurements of the body and fur at a good quality, take the material for the all types of physiological, anatomical and genetic studies. About the latter: there is not enough genetic material in the fur and faeces. It is possible to make only analysis of the mitochondrial DNA. The tissues of the animal allow to make mitochondrial and nuclear DNA (full genome sequencing) as well. This means that these methods widen the possibilities of the genetic study, what favors the precise definition of the species of the particular population. Those, who argue with this, just don’t understand and don’t realize the importance of the scientific aims and tasks in the studies of the wild animals and their habitats”.
The hunt on the 6 Sheeps can’t make any harm to the population. Moreover, only the old animals, which do not take part in the reproduction, are to be taken, only beyond the borders of the Nature reserve and only after the first study of the population condition. Besides that, the members of the CMH are eager to sign the document about the refuse of the possession of the trophy and will give it to the scientific organizations for the study. At first we discussed the budget of about 12-15 millions. However, the rate of the required work for reaching the full result is that large, that the sum raised in a short time to 40 millions! Modern drones for the estimation of the Putoran Sheep is supposed. The talk is not about the quadcopters, which can be bought in any shop. We talk about serious pilotless flights, which can be driven only by the certified pilots. The catch of the 12 alive animals is planned and further marking by the modern satellite sensors for the study of the migration processes in the population. This is large scientific work, which has been never done before – during the 30 years, for sure.
Even now it is obvious, that the project will require about 60-70 millions of roubles. But this work will give the real result and we, and we, like no one else, are interested in the success. We want to make a scientific film, demonstrate, how this work is organized. Hence, we don’t reject the idea of realization of the “Putoran project” and we continue to consult with the Ministry of the Nature Protection of Russian federation.
Numerous opinions were told on the meeting. However, most people proclaimed that it is a good project with obvious content, rights and duties of the sides, obvious and clear funding.
Any work and any initiative have supporters and opponents – it is normal. We may be wrong. We can hear the advises. We are for the cooperation with the scientists, ecologists and the “Greens”. Radical points of view and approaches are always bad. Like from the side of the hunters, and from the side of the “Greens” as well. I always stood for the dialogue. In general, “Putoran project” is right, and, if so, let’s search the ways of the contact of the interests, but not the cause to proclaim the final war to each other. This is or country, our land and no one will make anything but we. No foreigners will help, or they will make everything rough in the self-interest. I am insured, that they would prefer if we would do nothing at all, for if it was no scientific, creative and business processes. It is easier to trough the Russia with grants, for the life stopped in it. We lose the experts, technology, competence and willing of work in case if we do nothing.
It is obvious, that we are not able to solve all the problems and to release all the questions, but our initiative will become a good start for those, who decides to continue our work. We will feel no shame when look in to the eyes of the future generations and speak with honor about the things we have done for the biodiversity and for the rare and disappearing species of animals became common and abundant.