Citizen Ranger Wildlife Protection Program

Citizen Ranger Wildlife Protection Program

Project background

Species of focus: 

Country/Countries: 

Site(s): 

10 state nature reserves and 9 national parks (inclusive of but regardless of snow leopard presence)

Summary description: 

The project proposes to scale up a new anti-poaching program in the Kyrgyz Republic called Citizen-Ranger Wildlife Protection Program (CRWPP). CRWPP aims to train, inspire and better appreciate the efforts of state rangers, and encourage support and collaboration from local communities, in order to reduce poaching in and around protected areas. CRWPP publicly recognises and financially rewards rangers, and ranger-community member combined teams, who successfully apprehend poachers and file cases against them under the criminal justice system. The primary target is the Snow Leopard, Argali Sheep and the Ibex.

Recent changes to Kyrgyz “Law on Hunting” have made CRWPP possible as citizens are now allowed to record cases of poaching or illegal hunting and pass these directly to rangers. State Agency has also approved rangers and local community members to contact Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan directly so that rangers or Reserve Administration can be alerted.

CRWPP provides cash rewards as an incentive to apprehend poachers and follow-through with the filing of cases. This removes costs of making an arrest (e.g. driving and time), and are a boost to local meagre incomes. Arrests and case filling cause hassles and costs for poachers act as an added deterrent. Additionally, placing cases on record is a critical first step towards stronger law enforcement.

With funding from the Darwin Initiative, from 2015-2018, this project expects to build CRWPP into a national model reaching Kyrgyz Republic’s 10 state nature reserves and 9 national parks (inclusive of but regardless of snow leopard presence). Steps to accomplish this include:

  1. Outreach: The project will develop publicity material and use media, field visits, and relationships with Reserve Administration and Government to spread awareness about CRWPP to all stakeholders.
  2. Program capacity: The project will improve information gathering so that detailed and rapid information on cases are shared. Project implementers will develop relationship with local police and justice authorities. They will also establish a CRWPP Trust Fund to help made CRWPP financially sustainable. An estimated 43 financial awards will be provided by 2018, worth £4200 in total. Such payments can be sustained through a £105,000 trust fund, drawing a typical 4 % return in interest (current rate). Any unused funds will be reinvested in the trust fund to further maintain the corpus in perpetuity.

Overall, the program seeks to raise the social regard and skills of largely disenfranchised ‘front-line’ anti-poaching staff. The project implementers anticipate CRWPP to lead to a feeling of empowerment among reserve anti-poaching staff through public attention and praise, clear Government support, and written appreciation from the national Government and internationally recognized institutions.

In parallel to this project, the Snow Leopard Trust will continue to expand their livelihood enhancement work with local communities, especially their flagship handicrafts program Snow Leopard Enterprises, which specifically engages women and helps them increase their income in return for wildlife conservation commitments.

In addition to community involvement in anti-poaching patrolling, the project also involves training to strengthen law enforcement by government personnel. INTERPOL will provide hands-on training to rangers and senior Government officials in law enforcement issues including: i) training for rangers on basic law enforcement policies and procedures, investigative skill, and issues pertaining to wildlife smuggling and concealment; ii) cross-training for rangers and state police on improved collaboration, joint field operations, and building of community partnerships in law enforcement; iii) training for representatives of Reserve Administration and State Agency to support rangers, communities, and Citizen-Ranger Wildlife Protection Program.

Land management type: 

State managed protected area
State managed land outside protected area

Product(s) in trade: 

Types of poachers: 

Unspecified
Project implementation

Is the project implemented by an external party? 

Yes

Implementing organisation: 

The lead organisation is the Snow Leopard Trust in collaboration with Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan, the State Agency on Environment Protection and Forestry of the Kyrgyz Republic and INTERPOL.

Name of funding organisation(s): 

The Darwin Initiative's Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. Co-funders include the Whitley Fund for Nature and the Snow Leopards Trust.

Was the project established specifically to engage communities in combatting IWT? 

Yes

Year the IWT project or component started 

2015

Project status is currently: 

Ongoing
Community engagement

Financial: 

For each case that is successfully filed, the ranger/field team will receive a financial award. For cases involving protected species the field team will be awarded total 15000 KGS (£ 172), irrespective of the number of animals poached. For case involving confiscation of illegal guns, the field team will be awarded total 5000 KGS (£57). The award will be equally shared amongst team members, including local community members. For rangers, who do not typically earn much (can be as low as £18/month), this represents a significant financial incentive.

Non-financial: 

An annual public event will be held and shared with national media, to provide a certificate of appreciation. Certificates will be issued jointly by INTERPOL. Every team member will receive official certificate of appreciation.

The community engagement project is: 

Stand alone initiative

Do community guards conduct joint patrols with formal guards? 

Yes

What “rules of engagement” for working with communities does the case study address? 

Include local people in wildlife monitoring and enforcement networks

What has been the impact on poaching/IWT? 

Don’t know/Case study/project has not assessed impact on poaching

What has been the impact on wildlife populations? 

Not known/not documented

Further detail about the impact on poaching: 

In two model sites, project implementers will undertake a snow leopard and wild prey population monitoring program using methods based on camera trapping and double observer counts. Sampling will be undertaken in one site each year, and alternated between the sites. Though difficult to attribute or relate the population trends to the effectiveness of the CRWPP, this would nonetheless provide a baseline and trends in snow leopard and prey populations in two of the sites which will be valuable. It would also enable direct involvement of the rangers in scientific monitoring alongside trained researchers. The project also has three further relevant indicators: (1) the number of cases filed against illegal poaching; (2) attitudes of rangers and community members towards controlling illegal poaching; (3) number of ranger-community member teams that successfully apprehend and file cases. It is too early in the project to assess the impact, according to these indicators, as yet.
Lessons learned about engaging communities

What worked about the community engagement approach and why? 

The project is currently under implementation, and thus it is too early to comment.

What did not work and why? 

The project is currently under implementation, and thus it is too early to comment.

Case study information is up to date as of: 

2014
Bibliographic information

Main source(s) of information: 

Interview or unpublished information provided by project implementer/researcher

Contributor(s)/Interviewee(s)/Document title: 

UK Government's IWT Challenge Fund - Citizen Ranger Wildlife Protection Program Funding Proposal

Date of contribution/interview/document: 

August, 2014
Case study entry information

This case study entry compiled by: 

Francesca Booker

Date of case study entry: 

Friday, 16 September, 2016