WWF project aims to protect Russian polar bears

March 25th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by admin  

RIA Novosti
Vladivostok (Russia), March 25 (RIA Novosti) The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) began an operation Tuesday to protect endangered polar bears from poachers in Chukotka, in Russia’s northeast, a spokesperson for the organization said. The illegal trade in hides of polar bears, a species in steady decline throughout the Arctic, is on the rise in Russia. The current polar bear numbers in Chukotka are estimated between 3,000 and 5,000. Some 200 of the bears are killed annually, according to WWF statistics.

Polar bears are most vulnerable in early spring as they leave their lairs and move to the north, the spokesperson explained, adding that the ongoing operation would last until this period is over.

Internet monitoring carried out from April 2007 to March 2008 revealed 30 adverts offering polar bear hides for sale. The average number of adverts has significantly increased since 2003, and the price has doubled, reaching up to $6,000 per hide.

So far, experts have established only two poaching sites - the Taimyr peninsula on Siberia’s Arctic coast and Chukotka.

According to the US Geological Survey, two-thirds of the world’s 25,000 polar bears could die by 2050, when the ice they use to hunt seals will melt due to global warming.

The hunting of polar bears has been banned internationally since 1957.
RIA Novosti

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