In February Vivek Menon, Executive Director of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) visited Yerevan to help deliver a practical training course on preventing illegal wildlife crime for the Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets (FPWC) and other Armenian conservationists.
Both WTI and FPWC are partners of World Land Trust (WLT).
Vivek, also the Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), facilitated the training session, which took place over five days.
About 40 people took part, including government representatives from Armenia, Russia and Georgia. The delegates considered best practices used worldwide and after Vivek’s two day session, trainees were familiar with the latest techniques of wildlife trafficking intelligence. The course also involved practical exercises at an actual border crossing point.
After the course, Vivek and other IFAW regional directors were invited to the Ministry of Environment. There they met Armenian Vice-Minister Khachik Hakobyan who expressed a high opinion of the training and confirmed that he would like the IFAW team to continue to conduct the seminars in Armenia on a regular basis.
FPWC hopes that the training sessions conducted by IFAW team will help prevent the illegal trade in wildlife in the region and throughout the country.
As well as taking practical steps to prevent the trafficking of wild animals, staff of FPWC are keen to education the public about animal welfare. Few people in Armenia know anything about CITES convention controls. Many households are reported to keep wild species as pets and the fashion for keeping wild animals in private houses, restaurants and even petrol stations without proper welfare standards is growing year by year.
With the training completed, Vivek and his colleagues visited the Caucasus Wildlife Refuge, owned and managed by FPWC with support from WLT.
They travelled with Manuk Manukyan, FPWC’s Field Coordinator as well as Ranger Virab and Ranger Harut, all WLT Keepers of the Wild, Vivek was impressed by the beauty of landscapes and said of the field trip: “Seeing the bezoar goats and lammergeier on the nest was an unforgettable part of the trip spent in the company of committed rangers and an inspired NGO leadership.”
WLT has supported land purchase and conservation in Armenia since 2010. You can support conservation in Armenia by donating to Save the Caucasian Leopard or by supporting WLT’s Keepers of the Wild programme.