Minister of Nature Protection: The Hunting of Endangered Species is Against Armenian Law; The Guilty Must be Held Accountable
YEREVAN (A.W.)—Armenia’s Minister of Nature Protection has said that the hunting of endangered species is against Armenian law and that all those who are guilty of the offence must be held accountable.
Reports of illegal griffon vulture hunting began surfacing on Oct. 4, when Armenia-based environmental news outlet Econews.am published photographs of three camouflage-clad men holding the carcasses of at least two griffon vultures. According to some sources, the photos began circulating on social media earlier in the week.
According to Armenian police, the photographs of the men were taken before 2013, since the number plate on the car on the photo was outdated.
“We reacted very quickly yesterday,” Minister Artsvik Minasyan told reporters on Oct. 5. “It is already known that the incident happened long ago. The individuals in the photographs have already been identified and the police is doing whatever is necessary.”
Minasyan, who is a member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF), also told reporters that it is still unknown where the photographs were taken. “This is a crime, and after the collection of all materials, I am sure a necessary punishment will be administered,” the Minister told reporters.
One of the men has been identified as Shenavan village mayor Arthur Mkrtchyan of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, who told Yerevan’s Hetq investigative media outlet that the vultures were not hunted by him and his friends and that they simply took photographs with the carcasses when they came across them on the side of the road.
According to Minasyan, such cases are not rare and the hunt of endangered or threatened animals is mainly due to a lack of awareness and education. “If people understood that the griffon vulture is a rare birds, which is important to Armenia’s ecosystem, people will refrain from [hunting],” Minasyan said.
Speaking to Hetq, Minasyan said that his ministry intends to tighten the rules in the criminal justice system for such cases. “Because the current legislation, in my opinion, is fairly mild for such offenses, and in general, we intend to make changes to hunting rules for hunting farms,” said the Minister.