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:
- 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.
- 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.