Tigers and other endangered wildlife species get better protection in Russia
The decree, signed by Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on 13 September, provides better protection for the country’s rare flora and fauna by imposing stiffer penalties on those caught smuggling them. For example, at present, those convicted and found guilty of smuggling large amounts of tiger products, such as skin and bones, faced a maximum fine of 30,000 rubles (about USD10,000). With the new decree, they can be imprisoned for a period between 3 to 7 years and fined up to 1 million rubles (about USD 33,000) . In severe cases, the punishment could be as much as 5-10 or 7-12 years of imprisonment.
The decree, which comes into force on 29 September, would apply to all flora and fauna species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) Appendices I and II, and the Russian Red Data Book. These species include the Amur tiger, Far Eastern leopard, and wild ginseng.
“This is a serious step in the right direction towards conserving rare flora and fauna,” said Mr. Sergei Aramilev, WWF Russia Amur branch’s biodiversity conservation programme coordinator. “Customs inspectors and nature conservation organizations have been waiting patiently for the decree to be signed.”
In 2010, the Russian Government adopted the Strategy for Tiger Conservation, making commitments to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 and to stiffen punishment for those caught smuggling tiger products. However, it had not taken any strong action to address the illegal tiger trade issue, until now with the signing of the decree.
“While effective, the decree does have some limitation as it defines a criminal offence for smuggling rare and endangered species according to the estimated value of the shipment,” said Mr. Aramilev. “WWF looks forward to the further strengthening of the decree so that it can provide full protection to Russia’s endangered species.”