Volunteer rangers patrol snow leopard habitats in Russia
The antipoaching volunteer brigade (public inspection) was established in 2017 in Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai, one of the key habitat of the snow leopard in Russia. It is the first volunteer brigade of this kind with the specific goal to address the threat of snow leopard poaching. The brigade consists of the local enthusiasts who is eager to allocate their resources and time to patrol the area to conserve its native land. The “volunteer rangers” have no official rights equal to law enforcement but they can monitor and patrol the area, report on wildlife crimes, register the animals’ numbers and tracks, raise awareness of the local people. Thus the brigade helps the official authorities.
There have been several similar public volunteer inspections on wildlife protection established recently in some districts of the Russian Federation. The idea became possible after the Russian Federation passed the law defining the procedure of establishing the public inspection on wildlife crimes in each region of the country in 2017. The main goal of the law is to provide the possibility for the people to participate in wildlife crimes’ detection and establishing the public control system in the sphere of nature conservation.
Today the number of villagers who is eager to join the brigades amounts up to 100 people but there are only 15 regular volunteers. Since 2018 WWF and Pernod Ricard Rouss have been supported the first brigade established in the snow leopard habitat, the brigade of Kosh-Agach distric of the Republic of Altai. Last year the inspection received the equipment, petrol, uniform and training on the basics of wildlife crime prevention. The volunteers covered more than 2000 sq. km by patrolling on horses, by car and by boat and approached about 50 villagers consulting on hunting rules and raising awareness on wildlife crimes’ punishment. The brigade members set new posters with regime descriptions in the regional refuge, mapped and reported to law enforcement all newly discovered poachers’ hut and the remains of the snares.