Another hunting scandal in Azerbaijan: did a gov't employee accompany poachers?
Eco-front, an organization fighting environmental problems in Azerbaijan, has discovered a case of illegal hunting in the Qakh region of the country.
After posting information about this on social media, government agencies moved to action, and an employee of the Ministry of the Environment was later said to have guided the poachers during the illegal hunt.
Qakh may be known to some readers in a similar context: in March 2021, Arab tourists hunted endangered birds on the territory of the reserve and caused outrage throughout the country.
On April 18, the head of Eco-front, Javid Qara, posted the following information on his Facebook page: “I found a group of six people engaged in illegal hunting. I informed the police and the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Qakh region. Sarybash village”.
A little later, he published another message in which he added: “And the guide for them was an employee of the weather department of the Ministry of Ecology, a resident of the village of Sarybash, Valekh Gasimov.”
Javid Qara published a photo of four heads of the Dagestan tur, separated from their bodies.
The habitat of the Dagestan tur (Capra cylindricornis) is the eastern Caucasus on the territory of Russia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. The populations of East Caucasian tours have declined significantly since the 19th century. The reason is uncontrolled hunting.
The total number of the East Caucasian tur, according to the IUCN Red Book, is about 10,000 individuals, the subspecies is assessed as “close to threatened”.
According to information from the Eco-front organization, as soon as the eco-activists entered the village, the poachers hid the heads of the killed turs.
“They swore honor as officers, asked to remove those videos in which their faces were clearly visible, and then began to claim that they did not hunt. Allegedly, they went to the mountains to rest with weapons. It’s a good fairy tale,” wrote Javid Qara.
“The person is an employee of the Ministry of Ecology, and in addition receives a total of about 1,000 manat [about 500 euros] from a local project to protect nature. He lives in a remote mountain village and receives two official salaries. The eyes will never get enough. He moonlights as a guide where he is tasked with protecting the environment. What else should have been given to this person in order for him to be satiated? Now he will lose both jobs. Poachers will give him a salary,” the activist added.
On April 19, the State Service for Environmental Safety under the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan made an official statement on the event.
The head of the service, Hikmet Alizadeh, noted that the detainees were armed and there were serious suspicions that they would hunt for Dagestan turs.
The service appealed to the regional police department, and also provided law enforcement officers with the weapons of poachers, as well as material evidence of illegal hunting: “In relation to the suspects, measures will be taken as provided for by law and the public will be informed about this.”