Beware Of Illegal Sheep Hunts In Afghanistan


Published: December - 2005

There are disturbing indications that a renegade outfitter may be gearing up to offer illegal hunts for Marco Polo sheep and other species in Afghanistan. The rumored hunts would be illegal because the government of Hamid Karzai has recently imposed a ban on all hunting within the country. It goes without saying that no one should consider a hunt in Afghanistan at this time. US citizens would be particularly at risk because of the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to import an animal into the US taken in violation of local law anywhere in the world.

The good news in this otherwise bad-news story is, the reports of possible illegal outfitting indicate huntable populations of game in Afghanistan, including Marco Polo sheep, have survived the recent war. If the country remains stable, legal hunting some day is not out of the question. We infer that from a message we received recently from Kai Wollscheid, Director General of CIC.

In an e-mail dated December 12, Wollscheid noted that UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) published a report on the wildlife situation in Afghanistan in January 2003 that was, if not bullish, at least less pessimistic than many expected. Wollscheid's e-mail includes the following assessment of the report by FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations) expert, Anthony Fitz- herbert:

"[The UNEP] mission concluded that the wildlife situation in Wakhan and the Pamirs is far from hopeless. Indeed, the situation, although highly vulnerable, appears to be better than the mission had expected. The area's remoteness from politics and conflict, and even the Soviet occupation itself between 1980 and 1989, have provided some protection to the unique wildlife of the area. We concluded that among the Wakhi population, at least, hunting pressure has been limited, and professional commercial hunting (as opposed to retaliation/conflict killing of fur-bearing predators such as the snow leopard and the wolf) is not taking place in any systematic form. A recent ban on hunting, issued by the government of Hamid Karzai, appears to have been taken seriously, and there has been........(continued)

 
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