The report is part of a project aiming to strengthen capacities to implement CITES, especially in
Central Asia and to satisfy the CITES‐related requirements of trading partners, to prevent
overexploitation and to ensure legal international trade in wild fauna and flora does not exceed
sustainable levels. The objective is to enhance the policies and regulations concerning trophy
hunting in selected range States of the Argali Ovis ammon: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian
Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and to provide a framework for the establishment of
sustainable hunting programmes that support conservation. This report is focused on the relevance
of trophy hunting for conservation and associated local livelihoods.
Sustainable use of biological diversity is an integral part of the Convention on Biodiversity (1992) and
is seen as a valuable tool in conserving biological diversity. The Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines
(AAPG) set out the basis for sustainable use of natural resources. The IUCN SSC1 Guiding Principles on
Trophy Hunting as a Tool for Creating Conservation Incentives, and the European Charter on Hunting
and Biodiversity provide further guidance on the sustainability of trophy hunting, including on highly
threatened species. The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) together
with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has also developed Best
Practice Guidelines for trophy hunting.
All five project countries are Parties to CITES, except Tajikistan, which has begun the accession
process. Argali are the focus of the trophy hunting in the region and they represent the most
expensive trophy in the five project countries. Other CITES‐listed hunting species are Brown Bear
Ursus arctos, Wolf Canis lupus, Musk Deer Moschus moschiferus, Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx (all mainly
in Russia) and Houbara Bustard Chlamydotis undulata. Markhor Capra falconeri and Urial Ovis
orientalis have also been hunted at times but are not the object of regular trophy hunting
programmes at present. Other widely hunted species are not listed in the CITES Appendices.
A recent analysis by TRAFFIC of the CITES trade database showed that 10 245 hunting trophy items
from species listed in the CITES Appendices were exported from the project countries between 2000
and 2010. Almost all trophy items consisted of Argali, Brown Bear and Wolf. Most were exported
from Russia (9473 trophies), with smaller numbers from Tajikistan (705), Kyrgyzstan (668), and
Kazakhstan (126), and 13 from Uzbekistan.
In the region, wildlife is generally the property of the State, which awards rights to use it to
individuals or other entities. National legislation covering hunting and wildlife protection may refer
to sustainable use but this is undefined. The legal rights of local communities are also not generally
specified. FAO and CIC produced a review of national legislation that set out in detail the basic
principles of sustainable wildlife management laws (2008). One of the main findings was that
legislative frameworks in the region frequently consisted of different legal instruments that were not
always harmonized and sometimes overlapped. In some cases, there was also a lack of institutional
clarity, with overlapping jurisdictions among different agencies.
Poaching for meat and trophies or commercial products is a significant factor across the whole
region, negatively affecting all the main hunting species, as well as protected species. Wild
populations have been reduced, sometimes drastically so. Poaching of Argali and other mountain
ungulates may be carried out by military or border personnel and is not restricted to areas outside
formal nature reserves: indeed, law enforcement and protected area staff are sometimes complicit
in illegal hunting, driven in part by the very low salaries. There are numerous recent examples of
poaching and illegal trade in trophies of CITES‐listed species. The actual level of illegal off‐take is
unknown. Known cases may represent a very small fraction of the real total. The wildlife
conservation sector is under‐resourced across the region with a lack of funding, trained personnel,
transport and other equipment severely limiting the effectiveness of anti‐poaching efforts.
Memoranda of Understanding under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS MoUs) and their
associated action plans for Saiga Saiga tatarica and Bukhara Deer Cervus elaphus bactrianus have
proven to be effective instruments in facilitating species recovery. A CMS Single Species Action Plan
for Argali is in preparation (Roettger & Singh, in prep) and will provide a framework for conservation.
Trophy hunting in the region is predominantly organized on a commercial basis. Community‐based
hunting initiatives in the region are in their infancy and face some legal and institutional obstacles.
There are however promising developments: for example, five community‐based NGOs in Tajikistan
are managing wildlife in legally assigned areas and three of them have hosted hunting clients (on
non‐CITES species). Well‐developed community‐based trophy hunting programmes operate in
Pakistan, targeted at Markhor Capra falconeri which is listed in CITES Appendix I, and in Namibia,
which is widely seen as a leader in such programmes, and while the specific conditions and sociopolitical
background of both differ in several ways from those in the region, they nonetheless
provide instructive guidance on the principles of successful community conservancy organization.
There is an extensive literature on trophy hunting, its potential to contribute to conservation of
biodiversity and local livelihoods, and the potential negative effects of selective harvesting on
species. The consensus view seems to be that selective harvest of trophy‐age males does not impact
negatively in the short term, if only a low proportion of the available trophy‐age individuals are
harvested, but uncontrolled harvest can lead to a decline in horn size and thus trophy quality, as well
as have negative demographic effects. Trophy hunting programmes raise substantial revenues in
some African countries, and in the best cases significant sums are received at community or
conservancy level. However, this is not universally the case and inequitable benefit sharing remains
a major challenge to be overcome. Good governance is an essential requirement when developing
hunting and other forms of community based management initiative.
A possible decline in size of Argali trophies in Kyrgyzstan has been reported and determining
whether this is actually the case, and the causes, is a priority. Standardized monitoring, involvement
of independent experts, transparency in quota setting and allocation of licences are all seen as
prerequisites of well‐managed and sustainable hunting operations. Allocation of long‐term leases for
concessions is needed to motivate managers to invest in anti‐poaching and other conservation
measures and remove the temptation for short‐term profit that threatens the sustainability of the
Developing all forms of Community‐based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) – trophy hunting
and tourism – is also recommended. As the concept is still new to many parts of the region, and the
legal‐political background is not always sympathetic, building on examples of existing community
conservancies (in Tajikistan) or where there is an administrative basis for local management of
resources (Kyrgyzstan), is likely to be effective. Ensuring that communities and conservancies are
legally empowered to manage and utilise wildlife and to receive revenues for such use is a basic
Recommendations on good practice are set out in several publications and salient points relevant to the region are highlighted.