Hunting trophies siezed at the border crossing between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
By Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief
Last month we told you how we don't deal in fake news. News we'd been given on a seizure of trophies came from a Russian blogger who uses his corner of internet space to rant and rage, labeling everyone he comes across as a poacher. That's not news. But… we kept looking, because he was right about one thing - there were trophies seized at the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in late April. Contacts got us a report by Kyrgyz Customs, plus some newspaper reports. Now we had something to chase.
The incident I am referring to involved a driver working for hunting operator Yuri Matison, who attempted to transport four ibex and seven Marco Polo trophies hunted in Tajikistan across the border into Kyrgyzstan from where they were to be shipped out to clients. The driver was stopped at the checkpoint and a new Kyrgyz customs unit using detection dogs trained to find drugs and wildlife products inspected the vehicle and found the trophies. The Customs report states the trophies were hidden under sacks of wool. The trophies were labeled with clients' names and the booking agency who sent the clients, but no paperwork accompanied any of the trophies. I was told that there were also other animal products, including meat, but that is not in the report on the Customs website. The driver was arrested for smuggling and the entire shipment was seized.
Initially, a subscriber whose trophy is among those seized was told that the driver had taken an alternate route due to heavy snow and thus "created some problems at the border check point." He was assured the trophies would be released very soon. That was either a straight falsehood or a misunderstanding that was passed on to us. There is no alternate check point, and the trophies are NOT going anywhere anytime soon. An investigation is underway on the trophy origins and legality. Also, they are being kept as evidence in a criminal case against the driver....