New penalties for poaching show Russia means business

Thursday, October 11, 2007
South Yarmouth, MA
In an historic move aimed at increasing protections for Russia’s wildlife, that country’s Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor) has toughened the penalties for poaching endangered animals by increasing fines by up to 200 times. IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org), who has been lobbying in Russia for stricter penalties and strengthened legislation to combat poaching, applauds Russia’s decision as a great victory for wildlife.
Russia has fewer than 450-500 Amur (also known as Siberian or Ussury) tigers in the wild, and no more than 35 Amur leopards. Historically, fines in Russia for killing a tiger or leopard in Russia have been hopelessly low - less than 2,000 rubles, or US$ 50 based on exchange rates from five years ago. The new penalty for poaching a tiger, for example, is US$ 20,000. Both of these rare species are killed by poachers to supply the international market. Their bones are used in traditional medicines and the skins are sold as souvenirs or as fashion.
 
In September, Vietnamese authorities confiscated two tiger corpses from the refrigerator of a Hanoi woman. The estimated cost of each tiger was about US $20,000. The current value of a brew made with tiger bone is about US $800 for 100 grams (Source: Save the Tiger Fund). The new penalties, which up the ante for poachers looking to get rich quick, will help in combating these criminals and preventing illegal killing of these animals in the wild.
 
“We hope that this will be an effective instrument in combating poaching, and to save and even increase many unique populations living on the territory of our country,” said Oleg Mitvol, Deputy Head of Rosprirodnadzor.
 
According to Mitvol, Rosprirodnadzor will be conducting a number of new joint programs to increase the populations of the Amur tiger and leopard in partnership with State Inspection Tiger of the Ministry of Nature, the Amur Foundation and IFAW.
 
Added Mitvol, “We’re talking about animals that maybe will not be seen by our kids.”

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