That investigation, we are told, is directed not only at the local operator who billed this hunt as part of a scientific study, but also at the hunt organizer and the hunter. The reason, we were told, that they are casting their nets so wide is that the Kazakhstan government believes these illegal hunts are driven by outside demand. The eagerness of foreign hunters to take an argali is precisely what makes local poachers and corrupt government officials eager to arrange illegal hunts they say. This is particularly significant, because we learned about this incident when various booking agents from around the world contacted our offices. They said that clients had called them after seeing the report in OVIS Magazine and wanted to book the same hunt. One agent says several clients insisted it couldn't be illegal if this other hunter was able to do it.
To clear this up once and for all, we made direct inquiries to Kazahk authorities. In a letter addressed to Hunting Report Editor Barbara Crown on official letterhead from the Kazahkstan government, Deputy Chairman of the Forestry and Game Committee K. Mussabaev writes, "Argali hunting in Kazakhstan is a criminally liable act and punished by imprisoning for a three-year term, and the property used in the crime confiscated. Besides that, the wrongdoer must pay about $14,000 USD for the damages caused for one argali. Even if a foreigner comes to a country with no knowledge of the law it doesn't mean that the foreigner is relieved from responsibility. With regard to this, we undertook all........(continued)