Russia to clamp down on wildlife crime30/10/2012 11:56:36 Kremlin boosts protection for tigers
October 2012. Trade, transportation and possession of endangered species will all be considered crimes under new legislation proposed by the Kremlin, following discussions with WWF.
Tiger hunting is probably the biggest factor in the decline of tigers this century which has seen the world has lost 97 per cent of its wild tigers, including four sub-species to extinction. There may be as few as 3,200 of the endangered animals remaining. But until now, law in the Russian Federation, home to many of the world's remaining tigers, only considered the actual killing of an animal to be a crime. Poachers who are stopped carrying the animals or their parts claim they found them dead.
"It is a significant step towards protection of tigers and other endangered species threatened by trade and poaching," said Igor Chestin, CEO of WWF Russia who was heavily involved in discussions with the government. Russia has agreed for its Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to prepare the draft law in cooperation with WWF.
WWF and its partner TRAFFIC, the wildlife monitoring network, are campaigning for greater protection of threatened species such as rhinos, tigers and elephants. Demand for ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts from consumer markets in Asia is driving wild populations dangerously close to extinction. WWF is calling on governments to combat illegal wildlife trade and reduce demand for illicit endangered species products.
"Trade, transportation and possession of endangered species becoming a crime is a long-awaited measure that we believe will dramatically reduce poaching," Chestin said.
Tiger habitat protection
By the 1980s, the Amur tiger population had increased to around 500. Continued conservation and antipoaching efforts by many partners-including WWF-have helped keep the population stable at around 400 individuals. In 2010, the Russian Government adopted the Strategy for Tiger Conservation, making commitments to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 and to stiffen punishment for those caught smuggling tiger products.