New Report on Motivations for Illegal and Accidental Killing of Lesser White-fronted Geese in Kazakhstan

Bonn, 19 January 2018 - The AEWA Lesser White-fronted Goose Working Group is pleased to announce the completion of a new report which features the outcomes of a project carried out by Stirling University in cooperation with the Association for the Conservation of Biodiversity in Kazakhstan (ACBK) during September-October 2017 in northern Kazakhstan. The aim was to assess the motivations for hunting geese - including the illegal killing/accidental shooting of Lesser White-fronted Geese - in the local communities adjacent to key staging sites.

Although illegal killing of Lesser White-fronted Geese is widely recognized as one of the main threats to the species - particularly along their migration routes through Russia and Kazakhstan down to wintering areas in Azerbaijan, Iran and Iraq - the motives behind illegal killing of the species are often unknown. By understanding the exact drivers at individual sites, we will be in a better position to implement appropriate conservation responses.

The assessment found strong evidence suggesting that there is a significant lack of knowledge regarding whether Lesser White-fronted Geese are protected or not. Given that there are an estimated 10,000 hunters in north-western Kazakhstan, the study therefore estimated that over 1,000 hunters, with goose hunting licences, may unknowingly be hunting the species illegally through lack of knowledge of its protection status. Based on the recommended goose offtake figures for 2017 in the region, it was further estimated that around 700 Lesser White-fronted Geese might be being killed accidently per year across the Kostanay and Northern Kazakhstan regions.

The authors therefore conclude that conservation efforts in the region should include increased stakeholder engagement as well as education components in order to raise knowledge and awareness and to reduce the potential for conflict between hunters and conservation practitioners. This could, for example, be arranged through local hunting clubs as a means of reaching a high proportion of legal hunters.

However, the extent of and possible motives for illegal killing of Lesser White-fronted Geese remain unclear. As confirmed by local hunting inspectors, trying to detect illegal killing is a challenge across the vast landscape in north-western Kazakhstan. Survey questionnaires should therefore be repeated in future to improve the probability of detecting non-compliance with hunting regulations.

This project was organized under the framework of the AEWA Lesser White-fronted Goose International Working Group by the UNEP/AEWA Secretariat together with Stirling University and ACBK and was generously funded by the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Finnish Ministry of Environment.

For more information, please see the report or contact Isabel Jones at Stirling University, or the AEWA Lesser White-fronted Goose International Working Group Coordinator, Nina Mikander.

Last updated on 10 April 2018

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