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Kyrgyz anti-poaching unit gets tough

NABU Gruppa Bars antipoaching unit

NABU Gruppa Bars anti poaching unit. Photo by NABU.

The “Gruppa Bars”, an anti-poaching unit was set up to save snow leopards in the Kyrgyz Republic 10 years ago with the help of funding from the German Conservation Agency NABU.

Gruppa Bars means ‘snow leopard’ in Kyrgyz. The team has far-reaching powers and is equipped with weapons. They have the power to arrest suspects and seize live animals, skins, weapons and other evidence.

In the last decade the Gruppa Bars have captured 180 poachers and confiscated many snow leopard pelts as well as furs from other endangered animals. They’ve also confiscated and destroyed hundreds of traps. There’s no doubt this team has made a huge difference in saving snow leopards in the country.

Since the late 90’s living standards fell sharply after the dissolution of the Soviet states and the demand for snow leopard parts (for traditional medicine in China) and fur meant the cats in Kyrgyzstan have been hunted relentlessly.

Female Alcu injured by a trap. Now lives in a reserve. Photo by NABU.

Female Alcu injured by a trap. Now lives in a reserve. Photo by NABU.

A few years ago three live cats were saved after they’d been captured in brutal traps. All had parts of their paws removed because of the traps and can’t hunt successfully or feed themselves. But they’re now living protected in a large enclosure in a NABU supported wildlife reserve.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • AMM April 30, 2010, 5:32 pm

    What a wonderful website. Thank you for taking the time and effort to education and inform people about these issues. I searched and found your webstie b/c I watched “Wild Crime Scenes (or similar name) on Animal Planet (featuring Steve Galsten??) with Gruppas Bars work in Kyrgyzstan.
    Like Helen Freeman, I have an undergraduate degree in Economics, an MBA and our only child in now a sophmore in college. Due to spouse’s career, I have lived in South America, near east asia, europe and now we are at the end of a 3 yr tour in Africa. I have done environmental/conservation work in each of these countries.
    I’m inspired by HF’s example -” With her adult children at university, she herself returned to study zoology” I would like to return to graduate school, but with the last child in college, retirement to fund, there is no funding (I don’t want to incur debt) to pay for graduate school in zoology or animal science. Are there scholarships that you can recommend for experienced students who want to work (work in exchange for funding – like an ROTC for conservation work) in the conservation field? As our internet serivce is sporatic, could you kindly cc to my email when you post reply. Thank you

  • stephanie Sears March 25, 2012, 10:20 pm

    I wrote an email to NABU for contact information on anti-poaching work in Kyrghyztan for the snow leopard. I have been gathering information and have joined an anti-poaching team in Nepal for an article on the subject, but I would like to research my topic further by joining an anti-poaching unit in Central Asia: Kyrgyztan or Ouzbekistan or Tajikistan. I will probably go to all three countries anyway. Could you possibly help me with contacts?
    You may read articles that I have written on my website.
    Thank you very much.

    Stephanie Sears

  • Archean January 1, 2014, 2:27 am

    I have written couple emails to NABU to get direct contact with Gruppa Bars in Kyrgyzstan. But this organization has never responded my emails. I am really sick of these wildlife organization because they will never support enough to those teams who works really hard to protect snow leopards.

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