The Brave Awardees
During a public ceremony hosted by Kyrgyzstan’s State Agency for Environment Protection and Forestry, Snow Leopard Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, the British Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, and United Nations Development Programme, 18 rangers were honored and awarded for their bravery and commitment to wildlife justice.
Among the awardees was Mr. Marat Sharsheev, a ranger from the Issik-Kul region in Kyrgyzstan. Mr. Sharsheev’s team stopped a poacher who had killed an argali sheep, a protected snow leopard prey species. Following protocol, they confiscated his gun and used video to provide proof of the infraction.
However, while processing the case, the poacher ran away on horseback and returned armed with more hunters and a gun. The poacher raised his gun to threaten Mr. Sharsheev away, but Mr. Sharsheev stood his ground and continued with the arrest. He was ultimately able to diffuse the situation and safely bring the poacher to justice. The poacher was turned over to police and fined for the illegal killing of protected wildlife and for threatening the life of Mr. Sharsheev.
Accolades for the Rangers
For their bravery and commitment to the law, Mr. Sharsheev and 17 fellow rangers were given certificates of achievement, recognized by top state officials, and granted modest cash awards. Mr. Baktibek Turusbekov, member of the Kyrgyz Parliament, Mr. Mirslav Amankulov, head of State Agency of Environment Protection and Forestry, and Mr. Charles Garrett, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Kyrgyzstan, presented the honors to each awardee.
“Stopping poachers is dangerous and difficult,” acknowledges Kubanych Zhumabai uulu, Director of Snow Leopard Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, Snow Leopard Trust’s partner NGO. “Our goal is to make sure rangers have the tools and training they need to confront and apprehend poachers safely and effectively, and we’re glad this award ceremony can recognize and encourage their successes.”
These rangers face dangers and struggles every day while working to protect Kyrgyzstan’s wildlife. This award ceremony is aimed to recognize the courage they show in bringing illegal poachers to justice. Of course, there is never a prize large enough to express the immense gratitude felt toward these brave individuals.
This rewards program is part of a larger program to strengthen prevention and prosecution of poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the Kyrgyz Republic. The initiative was first funded through an Illegal Wildlife Trade prevention grant from the British government. It continues to run as a partnership between the State Agency of Environment Protection and Forestry of the Kyrgyz Republic, Snow Leopard Foundation Kyrgyzstan, and Snow Leopard Trust. In 2020, awards were also provided in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.
Curious about all the brave rangers honored at the ceremony? You can find a list of the awardees here: http://ranger.snowleopard.kg/honorees/