Ukraine may lose the European bison forever by the year 2015, according to ecologists. These rare animals have been listed in the Red Book of Ukraine for protection. But, they remain an easy target for poachers, and critics say the government is not paying attention to the problem. Our correspondent from Kyiv has more.
Ecologists say that by the year 2015, bison in Ukraine will only be a memory.
Ecologist Vladimir Boreiko conducted an investigation and found there were about 720 bison in Ukraine in the 90s. Now, their population is reduced to 250.
[Vladimir Boreiko, Ecologist]: (male, Russian):
“By 2015, this animal will disappear forever.”
The main causes for decreasing numbers of bison are poaching and lack of money for protection and breeding.
This amateur video depicts a German tourist hunting bison in a forest in Ukraine. There was a regulation that allowed the “selective” shooting of the animal despite it being listed as an endangered species. Old and weak bison had to be shot by forest officials.
Ecologists say that this regulation simply provides an excuse for foresters to make money from tourists who want to hunt bison. Very often, the bison they hunt are not old and weak, but young and strong. Each shot animal is worth over $5,500.
But the hunting of bison was completely banned in 2008, however, it didn’t help restore their population.
[Ivan Parnikoza, Ecologist]: (male, Russian):
“Despite all the efforts of the public and scientists, the extermination of European bison persists in Ukraine. They continue to disappear. For example, in the Vinnitskaya region there are only 20 left and not 60 as officials say.”
[Mykola Movchan, Deputy Minister of Environment]: (male, Ukrainian):
“In recent years, there were farmlands and bison could eat beets or corn there. But today there is decay on the fields so the bison search for food in other places.”
NTD, Kyiv, Ukraine.