Initial hearings take place in the argali hunting case (Altai Republic)

13 Jan 2011

The rare species argali hunting case will begin on January 26. This decision was taken at a hearing held on 13 January presided over by Nikolai Lubenitsky, chairman of the Kosh-Agach Rayon court, which is hearing this case.

The subject of these preliminary hearings (generally used for hearing processual questions, evidentiary issues, etc.) is not known. All of the accused traveled to Kosh-Agach to participate in these hearings – businessman and former vice-governor of Altai Republic Anatoly Bannykh, general director of Ineko Boris Belinsky, and vice director of the Moscow’s Institute of Economics and Law Nikolai Karpanov.

They stand accused under Part 2, Article 258 of the Russian Federal Criminal Code (collusion to illegally hunt by a group for animals whose killing is completely forbidden, with the infliction of gross harm and the use of airborne transport), the penalty for which ranges from a fine up to two years’ imprisonment. The accused in the case are pleading not guilty to the charges.


Translation by Jennifer Castner

New challenges in conserving Pakistani snow leopards

* Only 300 to 420 wild snow leopards left in mountain ranges of Pakistan
* Snow leopards’ habitat threatened by climate change, rising temperatures

By Syed Mujahid Ali Shah

In Pakistan, the northern mountain ranges of the Himalayas — Karakoram , Hindukush and Pamir — Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan host one of the most fascinating animals of the world: the snow leopard. The magnificent animal is on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red-list of endangered species.

According to a recent scientific study by Yale University, there are 300 to 420 estimated snow leopards left in these snow-covered mountain ranges of Pakistan, out of a total estimated world population of 4,000 to 7,000. This region is the main corridor of connecting bigger populations of snow leopards living in Pakistan, Central Asia, China, India and Nepal.

Climate change and increasing temperatures have caused fast degradation of the bio-tops in these mountains, which also host wild species of ibex, Marcopolo sheep, blue sheep, Astor Markhor and the musk deer, on which the snow leopard depends.

This has resulted in a tough inter and intra-specie survival competition. Due to food shortage in its natural sanctuaries, snow leopards have started moving down to villages in search of food and frequent encounters with cattle herds are now being reported from villages near Khunjerab National Park and Central Karakoram National Park in Hunza-Nagar district. Two decades ago, the government started ‘trophy hunting’ programmes in collaboration with mountain villagers in these regions to protect the snow leopard and its prey. Such hunting expeditions cost $3,000 to $80,000 and 80 percent of the money goes directly to the mountain communities, while 20 percent goes to the Forest and Wildlife Department in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The project has showed positive results in stopping illegal hunting of Marcopolo sheep, ibex, Astore Markhor and blue sheep.

Faced with an alarming future scenario in the shape of critical depletion of the snow leopard’s prey species, the conservation of wild fauna in these mountains will need more than just relying on trophy hunting projects.

As a new protection strategy, measures can be taken in the form of incentive programmes for the villagers to help them conserve wild life hot spots, as well as new awareness and educational campaigns on mass-level in these mountain regions.

As we are already on the verge of losing this endangered wild species — mainly due to lack of awareness and direct dependency of the local population on natural resources — the world should show responsibility by realising the value of Pakistani snow leopards and play its role in protecting them through economic and educational means.

Syed Mujahid Ali Shah is a student of Landscape Ecology and Nature Conservation in Germany.

Locals Fleecing Professional Blue Sheep Hunters, Nepal

Nepal: Professional hunters who come to hunt the blue sheep and Himalatan tahr in Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve, are forced to pay more than six-fold to local communities than their hunting fee set by the government. A hunter has to pay NPR 40,000 for a trophy blue sheep and Rs 20,000 for a Himalayan tahr to the government. Now they have to pay NPR 250,000 to locals otherwise they are not allowed to hunt desptie having a license.

March 29, 2010
The Himalayan Times

Thanks to Headlines Himalaya, March 22-31 (104), 2010 edition for the translation of this article.

Afghanistan announces first national park on Earth Day

Jeremy Hance
April 22, 2009

War-wearied Afghanis received uplifting news on Earth Day this year. Their government has announced the creation of the nation’s first national park, Band-e-Amir, protecting a one-of-a-kind landscape encompassing six sky-blue lakes separated by natural dams.

Announced by Afghanistan’s National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) at a ceremony in the FAO Building at the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock in Kabul this morning, key funding for the park was provided by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In addition, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) provided support with wildlife surveys, identifying park boundaries, and working with local government and communities. WCS developed the management plan and laws for the park. The park’s creators hope the system set up for Band-e-Amir National Park will be extended to new parks in the future.

“At its core, Band-e-Amir is an Afghan initiative supported by the international community. It is a park created for Afghans, by Afghans, for the new Afghanistan,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “Band-e-Amir will be Afghanistan’s first national park and sets the precedent for a future national park system.”

The park will be protecting one of Afghanistan’s most treasured natural areas. Six lakes resting high in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Central Afghanistan are separated by natural dams made from the rare mineral deposit travertine. Such systems are found in only a few place in the world, most of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, a future goal for Afghanistan’s first park. Pollution and human degradation of the fragile travertine dams currently threaten the park.

Unfortunately much of the park’s wildlife has already been lost. But surveys for the new park found ibex; urials, a wild sheep with massive horns; wolves; foxes; and the Afghan snow finch, the only endemic bird in the country. Snow leopards used to dwell in the region but vanished during the 1980s because of hunting.

While Band-e-Amir is not new to travelers it has been little visited since war engulfed the Afghanistan in 1979. After the nation gained some stability following the American-led invasion in 2001, thousands of Afghan tourists returned to Band-e-Amir. As well as natural beauty, the park has religious significance since it is believed the third caliph of Islam visited the region. With the new region’s status and publicity, the country hopes to attract international visitors.

Next on the list, Afghanistan is looking at creating a network of parks, including possible protection for the abundant wildlife in the Pamir Mountains.

WWF Russia released a report on attitudes toward hunting and poaching in the Altai-Sayan region

WWF Russia released a report in English by Agnieszka Halemba  and Brian Donahoe of the University of Leipzig and Max Planck Institute respectively on attitudes toward hunting and poaching in the  Altai-Sayan region, including some material on attitude toward hunting of snow leopard. The report can be downloaded at  The Altai press also reports that Kazakhstan and Russia are planning for a transboundary reserve in the Altai region and that a 2008 conference took place in Kazakhstan on the project. Additionally, WWF Russia is planning to initiate ecotours into snow leopard habitat along the Argut River. ( Feb 13, 2009)

Thanks to SLN member Kathleen Braden for this update.

Video footage of two snow leopards hunting a Dzo

From: Matthew Millan []
Sent: Thursday, December 11, 2008 7:20 PM
Subject: Very Rare Footage of Two snow Leopards hunting a Dzo

Hello All,

While climbing Stok Kangri Glacier in Ladakh, India in the late spring of 2004, I encountered two snow leopards in the middle of killing a dzo that was at least five times their weight. Since then, I put together a short 7-minute documentary chronicling the events. This is the first time I have released this very rare footage.

I met with Rodney Jackson of the Snow Leopard Conservancy, who wanted to see the apparently odd behavior of two leopards hunting together. Likely, he said, that one of the leopards was the juvenile son just hanging around until the mother chased him off.

Anyway, I would appreciate it if you reviewed the film and gave me your feedback. Thank you.

Please click on the link:


Matthew Millan