Igor Chestin's appeal
No self-isolation for nature
As our friend and partner, in these difficult times you've been drawing strength from nature. Remembering the freshness of spring forest, watching wildlife movies, and listening to birdsong – in records. Today we all happened to be caught away from nature we hold so dear. Caged up at home, we face problems we could not have even imagined before. But we carry on our work, remotely for now, and thoughts about the wideness of steppes and forests give us strength. Our mission keeps us moving forward, and we have no right to halt. These days, we have been working even harder than before —the lockdown did not lessen dangers to nature. Instead, nature has faced new ones.
Poachers do not nap
Inspectors in conservation areas, hunting grounds, and fisheries have been spending whole days and nights afield. Despite the lockdown, poachers are on the watch breaking the protected silence with shots. As almost all partner regions of WWF-Russia report, there has been an increase in trespassers. Every day, inspectors cover hundreds of kilometers around forest tracks, rivers, and mountain paths, although costs for these extra trips were not included in the budget, no one could have foreseen the situation we all have encountered. Many residents of the remote districts have been deprived of their usual means of income. Some people were forced to take unpaid leave, and those who worked as guides or told tourists about folk crafts were left without extra money. Due to extended "holidays," people venture out into the forest, cut down trees illegally, hunt animals, and go fishing without any license to provide for their families. But although the situation if tough, we must not allow devastation of wildlife.
If we leave the problem unattended, we are running the risk of facing a catastrophe similar to the extermination of the wild bison. Thirty years ago, unchecked hunting due to the economic crisis almost destroyed the work of Soviet researchers and experts who had been restoring the population that vanished from the wildlife in the early 20th century. Two thirds of the population were killed.
Our work goes on
Then, we had to start the work on returning the bison into the wildlife almost from its very beginning, and we still continue it. Today, WWF-Russia employees are preparing a group of bison to be transferred from the Bison Breeding Center in Oksky Nature Reserve to the North Ossetia, although we are working remotely as most people in the country. For many years, we have been restoring the wild bison population in the North Caucasus, and the severe test we are facing now should not hamper our work. We are raising funds for transportation. As soon as the situation allows, the bison will be sent to their new home to start their lives in the wild.
WWF-Russia continues the realization of nature protection projects in dozens of regions of the country. In Altay and Buryatiya, we are counting the snow leopard; and in Chukotka, we are preparing to meet polar bears with their cubs. Our experts keep watching over Russian forests. We cannot make nature pause and ask it to wait till days look up. Nature needs our help as badly as ever, and we must defend it from desperate actions of people as vigorously as never before. The crisis will be over, but the damage that humanity can inflict upon nature pursuing quick profits may turn out to be irreversible.
We know you are tired, the uncertainty and anxiety are sapping us all. But we carry on our work and urge you: look after the nature! We bank on your support. Now, we all must pool efforts not to lose what we have been preserving and guarding for these long years.
President of WWF-Russia,