Russia is calling

Eugene Potapov potapov at VAX.OX.AC.UK
Sun May 16 17:57:56 CDT 1993

This is an article from Raptor-link, Russian Birds of prey and owls newsletter.
Information about the newsletter may be obtained from Eugene Potapov, EGI,
Dept of Zoology, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3PS, UK, phone (0865)2711133,
Fax (0865)310447, email: Potapov at

Commercial exploitation of raptors in Kamchatka.
        The far-reaching changes in Russia have not left Kamchatka untouched.
Some of the changes are positive: Kamchatka will open up to tourism; some are
negative: one of which is the increase in nest-plundering of rare species. It
is well known that Kamchatka houses the largest population of Gyrfalcons in
Russia (150-200 breeding pairs). This beautiful falcon enjoys wide popularity
among falconers. Kamchatka is also home to Steller's Sea Eagle. Half of the
world's StellerUs population lives here. The white phase of Goshawk, equally
prized by falconers, also breeds in Kamchatka. The demand for these birds in
the West enables Russian "business-men" to make easy money. For them these
birds are a quick and easy source of hard currency. Two years ago in a newly
created reserve in the North of Kamchatka (45 square km),  six Gyrs eyries were
found. In 1992,  only one nest was left, the other were all empty or abandoned.
Locals spoke of people coming every year from cities all over Russia,
particularly from Moscow and St.Petersburg and paying large sums of money to be
guided to nests containing young. This  also occurs occur in other parts of the
        Concerned Kamchatkan ornithologists have drawn up a packet of measures
to stop illegal export of rare birds from Kamchatka. The proposed measures were
supported by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Russia.
Unfortunately the success of the measures does not depend solely on a few
specialists in Kamchatka. The western partners of Russian "businessmen" are not
subject to Russian law and have no need for official permits from the Ministry.
They acquire the birds mainly illegally with  the help of dubious dealers.
        Through my personal contacts with colleagues in the Czech Republic, in
Slovakia, Poland and Germany, I know that people in the West are for some
reason of the opinion that everything is permitted in Russia, that Russia
adheres to no international agreements and that there are no restrictions on
the capturing and export of rare species. Even I myself have been approached by
colleagues asking if I could make the Russian Tiger, StellerUs Sea Eagle and
other animals available for export. I also learned that no fewer than fifteen
speculators have recently been dealing in Gyrfalcons, Goshawks and StellerUs.
Last autumn it was reported in a journal of hunting and nature conservation
authorities that a couple of "business-man" from St.Petersburg had stolen two
Gyrfalcons. They were heavily fined, but nevertheless returned yet again to
Kamchatka this year. Clearly, their "business" is paying off. I am convinced,
therefore, that those engaged in the sale of rare birds in the West, and who
are on the look out for business partners to procure these birds, know
perfectly well how to set about acquiring rare species illegally in Russia, and
this does them little credit.
Eugeniy G. Lobkov, Kronok State Reserve, Elizovo, Kamchatka District 684010,
Copyright - World Working Group on Birds  of Prey. Shortened version
reproduced with the kind permission of the WWGBP from the WWGBP newsletter

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