Protection for Rare Wild Sheep Angers Local Hunters

A two-year moratorium on hunting the arkhar, an endangered species of wild sheep found in the mountains of Tajikistan, has angered hunters in Badakhshan region.

Protection for Rare Wild Sheep Angers Local Hunters

A two-year moratorium on hunting the arkhar, an endangered species of wild sheep found in the mountains of Tajikistan, has angered hunters in Badakhshan region.

Friday, 27 March, 2009
Shahoda Saipnazarova interviewed opponents of the moratorium including a hunter in Murghab, who did not want to be named. “look at South Africa, it flourishes because of hunting tourism. They don’t have a ban, and [hunting] companies breed animals as well as conserving them, so they have a value as trophies.”



Environmental expert Alikhon Latifi says hunting firms in Tajikistan contribute a lot to the local economy through investment and job creation and are developing sustainable tourism.



“This ill-thought-out, unjustified hunting ban could prompt these firms to leave,” he said, adding that if the legitimate companies go, “their place will be filled by poachers”.



“Secondly, the anyone who has a firearm will start shooting arkhar without any controls,” Latifi continued. “It’s no secret that there are a lot of weapons in Badakhshan. Not all the arms left over from the [1992-97 civil] war have been seized yet. I believe we’ll lose significant numbers of arkhar in a matter of years.”



Firuza Abdurahimova of the Nature Protection Volunteers, a non-government group, is against trophy hunting, and says that because the arkhar is listed as an endangered species internationally, there should be no killing at least until an accurate estimate is made of the number living in Tajikistan and a quota can be established.



The arkhar is a giant among sheep, weighing in at 200 kilograms and with horns that can spread two metres.
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