Rare flora and fauna species recognized as strategically important products and resources
WWF considers this as a serious step towards rare flora and fauna species conservation and calls the Russian Government to proceed.
According to the Decree signed by Dmitry Medvedev on September 13 all rare flora and fauna species which are listed under CITES and included in the Russian Red Data Book fall under article 226.1 of the Criminal Code of Russia. Those willing to enrich oneself smuggling rare plants and animals will be imprisoned for 3 or 7 years and fined up to 1 million rubles (which is about 33 000 USD). In some cases the punishment could be as severe as 5—10 or 7—12 years of imprisonment.
“Customs inspectors and nature conservation organizations have been waiting with patience for this Decree to be signed, — comments Sergei Aramilev, biodiversity conservation program coordinator at WWF Russia Amur branch. — With adoption of Strategy for Tiger Conservation in 2010 the Russian Government has made considerable commitments to stiffen punishment for smuggling rare and endangered species but no positive steps have been done since then. And at long last it happened.”
“We are encouraged to know that for the first time over decades the List recognizes trafficking of rare wildlife products as contraband of animals and plants and not as non-specific items of goods. In general, the new regulations prescribe more severe punishment. For instance, before, a person smuggling several tiger skins had to pay about 3 000 — 10 000 USD, now — 3—7 years of imprisonment.”
WWF thinks that this measure is an effective one but not complete.
“We hope that the Russian Government will continue to increase the legislation pressure for smuggling rare species. Next step will be establishing of criminal penalty for smuggling of rare species not involved in commercial trade such as tigers and leopard regardless of the quantity and the cost of the trafficked animals or plants. — adds Sergei Aramilev.