30 March 2012 - The Ministry of Agriculture of
Kazakhstan reports the successful interception of a shipment
of 4,704 saiga antelope horns (Saiga tatarica)
in the Almaty region of the country. This arrest of a circle
of wildlife traffickers had been prepared for several months
and benefited from close cooperation of a number of agencies.
Kazakhstan has shown considerable commitment in implementing
the CMS Saiga Antelope Memorandum of Understanding (MoU),
not only by establishing new protected areas, but also by
recently amending national law to specifically target wildlife
traffickers. The CMS saiga MoU is administered together
with CITES, especially to control the international trade
in saiga horn, which is used in Chinese Traditional Medicine.
Only saiga males bear the valuable horn
and are therefore targeted by the poachers, which has already
led to a severe lack of saiga males throughout populations.
The removal of a further 2,352 adult males as indicated
by the seizure made by the authorities in Kazakhstan is
a major blow for conservation efforts of this already critically
endangered migratory species. Until 2020 no harvesting of
saiga antelopes is foreseen in Kazakhstan to allow populations
to recover from their dramatic decline from about one million
animals in the early 1990s to just over 100,000 today.
only in Central Asia is wildlife crime becoming increasingly
more serious and organized. It is a worldwide problem, which
prompted heads of international environmental compliance
and enforcement bodies to meet in Lyon earlier this week
to strengthen efforts to reduce environmental crime. This
summit, led by UNEP and INTERPOL, highlighted the fact that
stronger intelligence and control of internet-led trading
The fact that wildlife traders are becoming
highly organized is also illustrated by the saiga horns
seized in Kazakhstan. The shipment was accompanied by the
skins of 10,608 Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) and
three bags of plant roots of Fritillaria pallidiflora Schrenk,
which is also used in Chinese Traditional Medicine.
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