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Премия рунета 2017

Volunteer rangers patrol snow leopard habitats in Russia

18 february 2019
The first antipoaching volunteer brigade of the Republic of Altai (Russia) sums up the results of 2018

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. 

© Ivan Usanov Leonard Takhanov, the Head of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai, the Head of the Directorate of the Regional Protected Areas of the Republic of Altai.
© Ivan Usanov Checking the hunter’s illegal hut discovered in the regional refuge.
© Ivan Usanov The members of the Antipoaching public inspection patrol the area of the Shavlinsky regional refuge.
© Leonard Takhanov The members of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai is setting the poster at the road to the Shavlinsky regional refuge.
(c) Leonard Takhanov Focus groups among the local people of Kosh-Agach District during the raid in summer, 2018.
© Ivan Usanov The members of the Antipoaching public inspection discovered the remains of the poachers’ wire snare.
© Ivan Usanov The members of the Antipoaching public inspection patrol the area of the Shavlinsky regional refuge.
© Ivan Usanov The members of the Antipoaching public inspection patrol the area of the Shavlinsky regional refuge.
© Ivan Usanov Leonard Takhanov, the Head of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai, the Head of the Directorate of the Regional Protected Areas of the Republic of Altai.
(c) WWF / I. Usanov / L. Takhanov
Volonteer brigade in raids
“In 2018 WWF and the corporate partner of WWF, Pernod Ricard Rouss, supported Altai volunteer brigade and their activities were lifted to the other level. We think that regular patrolling of the snow leopard habitats by volunteers contributes to conservation of the rare species regardless of having or not having the functions and authorities of the law enforcement by the brigade’s members. The local hunters are perfectly aware of the brigade operating in the area and are afraid to poach”, says Alexander Karnaukhov, WWF Altai-Sayan Programme Senior Coordinator.

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.

© Ivan Usanov Leonard Takhanov, the Head of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai, while checking the fisherman in the regional refuge where hunting and fishing is prohibited.
© Ivan Usanov WWF & Pernod Ricard Rouss provided the brigade with uniform.
© Ivan Usanov UAZ, famous “Russian jeep”, an ideal both cheap in service and easy to use car for Russian roads.
© Leonard Takhanov The snow leopard’s track found by the inspector of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai.
© Ivan Usanov. Red deer observed by the members of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai
Volonteer inspection
(c) WWF / I. Usanov / L. Takhanov
“Another important target of the antipoaching volunteer brigade is raising awareness on snow leopard conservation and wildlife crimes among the local people. By consulting the people on hunting and fishing rules and the punishments for wildlife crimes we target at preventing the crimes rather than reporting the violations. This is even better, says Leonard Takhanov, the Head of the Antipoaching public inspection of Kosh-Agach District of the Republic of Altai, the Head of the Directorate of the Regional Protected Areas of the Republic of Altai.

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. 

For additional information please contact
Altai-Sayan ecoregional press-officer
Senior Project Coordinator