Gamekeepers and environmental group unite to protect wild life


For many decades, lynxes, wolves and bears have been very rare in the Czech Republic. Over the last 20 years their numbers have been decreasing even more rapidly. One of the obvious reasons is disappearing habitat through the clearance of woodlands. However, these three wild species have to face one more serious problem: poachers. In the last 20 years, around 500 lynxes plus several wolves and bears have died at the hands of illegal hunters, who regard them as trophy kills.

Now the DUHA movement, which is the Czech branch of the Friends of the Earth organization, recently signed an agreement with the Czech-Moravian Association of Gamekeepers to try and ensure better protection for these three species.

How long did the negotiations between the gamekeepers' association and DUHA take?

"The gamekeepers' association has been saying for many years that that it strongly disagrees with poaching, so our cooperation is not an entirely new thing. We have been working together for quite a long time within the framework of various big organizations and groups of experts, who are to some extent involved in the issue. But this agreement is a major step forward. We agreed on working together to limit poaching in the mountain areas of the Czech Republic."

In what ways exactly are the two organizations going to cooperate on this project?

"In the first place, the gamekeepers' association will support our idea of granting a reward to anyone who informs the police or other authorities of a poacher killing a protected wild animal. We believe that this will be an effective method to make poachers afraid of carrying on with their activities. The gamekeepers' association will join the steering committee, one of whose tasks is to bestow rewards on persons who have reported a poacher.

We will also unite forces in seeking poachers and intensively cooperate on the local level to make sure that the activities of the gamekeepers and our activities pertaining to nature's conservation are coordinated and more effective."

Have you considered using chips, in order to monitor the animals?

"I don't think that this would be really effective. There is actually a certain project going on in the Sumava Mountains where scientists fastened radio transmitters on lynxes in order to monitor their behavior. Half of those lynxes have already been killed by poachers. This method itself doesn't help in finding poachers, you just find out that the animal has disappeared."