Anna van Densky, OPINON
A specially generous gift has been made by Russian Ministry of Nature to poachers and hunters removing the most protected species from the Red Book. During the end of year celebrations startled Russians discovered that the Ministry, supposedly devoted to protection of nature and endangered animals, openly made a gesture pleasing the poachers, and hunters rejoicing over decriminalisation of killing of rarest species – the the wildest dreams trophies.
The species under threat of extinction, in particular the snow sheep (Ovis nivicola), the Himalayan black bear (Ursus thibetanus laniger), and even the majestic snow leopard (Panthera uncia) disappeared from the Red Book. A group of prominent academics from the Russian Academy of Sciences presumed that this is due to a hunting lobby.
The academics wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to speak in defense of Russian environmental science and instruct to abolish the decision taken by the Ministry of Natural Resources. (Open letter in Tweet below):
“The Red Book is in danger! The extincting species removed, but already extinct added. Who benefit from the farse with “dead souls”? Russia legalises the killings of Red Book animals?” – says the tweet of VITA Russian animal protection centre.
“By the end of the Year of Ecology and the year of specially protected natural areas, the Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology Sergei Donskoi signed an order (ukaz) approving of fauna listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and expelled from it,” – the deputy director of a department of the Ministry of Natural Resources Igor Davydov said, quoted by RIA Novosti.
The Red Book has not been updated since 1998, with the exception of three changes introduced in a decade. At the same time it is desirable to conduct an audit every ten years, the department insisted.
Recently Russian upper chamber of parliament the Council of Federation has been implicated in another scandal, actively lobbying interests of hunters. Dubbed as a ‘Club of billionaires’ senators defend the most violent and abhorret forms of hunting, as ‘cubbing’ – training dogs on wild animals shredding them into pieces. (Pictured: senator Vladimir Lebedev, hunter and deputy chair of the Committee for Agriculture and Nature of Russia’s Federation Council with his trophy as a featured image, and during the hearing in the Council above).
Many Russian nouveaux riches, including senators-oligarchs, are well-known for their megalomania purchasing chateaux in Europe and penchant for restoration of life-style of late tsars at home, indulging themselves in hunting, presumably to mask their too modest origins, and a dramatic lack of culture.
Next to entertainment of Russian nouveaux riches the lifted hunting ban ensures flows of foreign fans of bloody “sports” as an additional source of income for state purse, and local communities in decline, especially after the application of the EU sanctions against Kremlin.