IDEA concerned regarding endangered leopard killing in Azerbaijan
Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 12
The Azerbaijani State Border Service officers have detained residents of Astara district of Azerbaijan Natig Boyukagazade (1995) and Samad Faracov (1995), who were trying to sell the skin of a leopard they killed in Astara district.
Boyukagazade admitted that in August 2015 he was hunting wild leopard in the protected mining and forest area in the Astara district of Azerbaijan. After killing the animal and skinning it, Boyukagazade started looking for a buyer for the skin. He was arrested when he and his relative Samad Faracov wanted to sell the leopard skin in the village of Cukaz of Astara district for 10,000-15,000 manats.
Caucasian leopards, which are considered a rare jewel of world fauna, are listed in the Red Book of Azerbaijan and the Red List of International Union for Conservation of Nature. Due to illegal hunting and reduce of the natural habitat, the number of this rare species has declined sharply in the last decades.
It was established that six Caucasian leopards live in Azerbaijan, according to photocameras installed in Hirkan and Zangezur national parks by the IDEA (International Dialogue for Environmental Action) Public Union, the founder and head of which is the vice-president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Leyla Aliyeva, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF, formerly World Wildlife Fund).
A number of actions have been taken thus far through the joint efforts of the IDEA Public Union, Azerbaijan's Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to protect the Caucasian leopards and increase their number.
The protection of the leopards' habitat area was enhanced, a series of events were organized to enlighten the public about their significance, as well as about the protection of the endangered leopards.
The IDEA Public Union has also implemented a project titled "Protection of the Caucasian Leopards" to enlighten the population.
The project was aimed at informing the people, who live near the habitat of the Caucasian leopard, about this rare species, as well as at promoting the activities for its protection.
A series of events have been carried out in connection with protection of leopards as part of the "Big Five" program, initiated by Leyla Aliyeva. The "Big Five" program covers the protection of the five endangered species in the Caucasus - bear, wolf, gazelle, eagle and leopard.
Nevertheless, there are still those who, in the interests of business and profit, prey on these endangered animals.
IDEA has expressed serious concern over the fact of murder of the leopard, which is on the verge of extinction.
Additionally, Azerbaijan's Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources adopted the national action plan to strengthen the protection of leopards in 2009. The natural areas under special protection were expanded in their habitats. The leopard hunt was banned and administrative responsibility for killing of these animals was tightened.
Aside from major financial penalties, Azerbaijan's legislation also envisages criminal liability for the murder of leopards.
However, unfortunately, some irresponsible people, seeking material gain by destroying the country's natural heritage, kill the leopards which are on the verge of extinction.
Alongside with all the measures, IDEA urges the citizens to protect the rich biodiversity and endemic species of fauna in Azerbaijan and inform the law enforcement agencies about the illegal facts in order to fight the activities aimed at killing the animals that are on the verge of extinction.