By Kevin Heath
Russia is to propose new laws to close the loopholes that poachers use to target the countries last remaining tigers. Currently it is illegal to kill tigers but possession, trading and transporting tigers and tiger parts is not illegal. If poachers are caught all they have to do is say they found the tiger already dead to avoid prosecution and severe penalities.
The WWF have been working with the Kremlin to draft the new laws which will be a major boost to tiger conservation efforts in the region. The Russian Federation’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will work with the WWF-Russia to prepare a draft law to present to the government.
“It is a significant step towards protection of tigers and other endangered species threatened by trade and poaching,” said Igor Chestin, CEO of WWF Russia. “Trade, transportation and possession of endangered species becoming a crime is a long-awaited measure that we believe will dramatically reduce poaching,”
The WWF highlighted recent cases where Russians were found with tiger parts but would only be subject to minimal fines under the current legislation. In one case a man was found with parts from 6 tigers and another case saw a man caught with 8 tiger skins and a host of other endangered species.
The later case relates to a raid conducted by russian police and authorities on a house in Arseniev following intelligence. There they found 8 tigers skins including tigers cubs one of which was still sucking. The raid was undertaken in August and the trader was arrested for illegal hunting and receiving stolen goods. More....