AN AGREEMENT TO MOVE FORWARD IN KAZAKHSTAN
The republic of Kazakhstan has emerged as one of the most important former Soviet states since its independence in 1992. At just under a third the size of the United States, the now independent Republic of Kazakhstan has become one of the richest hunting destinations in Asia. So much so that a separate category in the SCI record books was established just for the Asian elk of Kazakhstan – the Tian Shan Wapiti. The nation also contains four massive ecosystems that are home to an unmatched diversity of Argali sheep with 5 subspecies existing in healthy numbers. Unlike many neighboring countries, Kazakhstan is prepared to open hunting to some of the most diverse and healthy populations of ungulates on the planet.
The 2018 SCI Convention once again brought together those who are passionate about hunting and conservation with stakeholders from across the world who rely on hunting as a powerful management and economic tool. This year, a Memorandum of Understanding was drafted, finalized, and ultimately signed by SCI Foundation President Warren Sackman III, Wild Sheep Foundation President and CEO Gray Thornton, and Chairman of the Board of the Ministrty of Culture and Sports National Agency or, “Kazakh-Tourism” Kuzembaev Rashid Talapovich. Far from just another agreement on paper, this is a huge step forward to opening the vast Kazakh countryside to hunting and conservation programs aimed at conserving and enhancing wildlife and habitats while involving local communities. The work under these programs will focus on species that are hunted, particularly mountain sheep, Siberian ibex and Roe deer, but will not be limited to them. The development of a reliable and sustainable funding source from conservation hunting tourism will pay for the programs and projects as the continue to evolve.
As a part of SCI Foundation’s International Conservation Strategy for Wild Sheep and Goats, this new agreement with Kazakhstan is just the first of what we hope will be many international agreements. SCIF and Wild Sheep Foundation have ongoing conservation efforts in North America, Europe, and Asia. This long-term approach to wild sheep and goat conservation provides a model for future cooperative agreements. Engaging relevant government agency representatives and local stakeholders along with hunters will ensure that a science-based approach to wildlife management can be followed rather than an emotion or politically-based approach. As Wild Sheep Foundation President & CEO Gray N. Thornton once stated, “We are proud to work hand-in-hand with SCIF as conservation partners and teammates to conserve these iconic species not only in North America but around the globe.”
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