Isn't argali hunting in Kazakhstan illegal? That's what subscribers have been asking in a flurry of e-mails this past month. By now you most likely have seen the hunter-written report published in the January 2010 OVIS Magazine, the publication of the Grand Slam Club/OVIS (GSCO), detailing a hunt for Sair argali in East Kazakhstan. The hunter describes the hunt and how he passed through a government check point that required he sign paperwork and turn over his passport until the hunt was finished. Upon taking a ram, the hunting party returned to the check point and turned in the trophy. After more paperwork their passports were returned. The hunter later received his trophy where he lives in Argentina with his hunting permit and other documentation. The trophy cleared Argentine Customs without any snares.
So what's the problem? Well, according to the Deputy Chairman of Kazakhstan Forestry and Game Committee, the equivalent of the US Fish & Wildlife Service, all argali in Kazakhstan are closed to hunting and the hunt in question was illegal. The Hunting Report obtained a copy of a letter sent by the deputy to Safari Club International, the Wild Sheep Foundation and Safari Outfitters, none of whom were involved in the hunt, and requesting that they "make enquiry on illegal hunting which took place in November 2009 for argali in East Kazakhstani region by one of the members of your club." Curiously, the letter was not addressed to GSCO who originally reported on the hunt. We contacted the deputy's office and requested more information on argali and hunting in general in Kazakhstan. Mr. B. Duisekeyev responded in an e-mail to us, "Argalis in Kazakhstan are listed as rare and endangered species and hunting for them is forbidden. Therefore the Committee on Forestry and Hunting submitted the information on illegal hunting on argali to the law-enforcement agencies for investigation and are undertaking measures concerning law violation. In Kazakhstan, hunting is regulated by the Forestry and Hunting Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan. To carry out hunting it is necessary to contact only the Forestry and Hunting Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Hunting........(continued)