Iranian Ministries Give Russian Hunters Access to Yazd Game Reserve, Report Says 

By Kayhan Life Staff

Iranian media, including the Judiciary’s Mizan online news, have recently published footage that appears to show Russian hunters in several exclusive game reserves, including one in Yazd, capital of the central province of Yazd.

Hunters reportedly pay $30,000 for each piece of dead game.

Asif Ilyasov, a hunter from the Republic of Azerbaijan, has allegedly been organizing hunting tours in Iran for his clients for some time. Mr. Ilyasov works with an international hunting tour company. Video clips published on social media reportedly show Mr. Ilyasov’s clients hunting in exclusive wildlife sanctuaries in Yazd Province.

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Sergey Mazurkevich, a Russian national, is seen on a hunting tour in a game reserve in Yazd Province. The video shows Mr. Mazurkevich, accompanied by the wildlife sanctuary guards, killing an Asian mouflon (a wild ram) and a bighorn sheep using an advanced hunting gun.

Both animals were reportedly only seven years old.

Under the Iranian Department of Environment’s guidelines, hunters are banned from killing any quadrupedal younger than 9. Guards in the game reserve must enforce Iranian legislation.

The Department of Environment has reportedly earmarked exclusive hunting areas within the game reserve for foreign visitors, prompting domestic hunters to warn that the practice may violate the hunting law and endanger native wildlife. They are also concerned about the escalating tensions between domestic hunters and guards in the game sanctuaries, which could spark violent clashes with tragic consequences.

The footage of foreign hunters reportedly shows Sergey Mazurkevich holding the carcass of a wild ram in front of a camera in a game sanctuary in Yazd. He is heard responding to the public outcry against the hunting tours, by saying “be smart and appreciate what we are doing for the Iranian people.”

Mazurkevich has been hunting games in Iran for many years.

According to the Tehran-based Arman Meli newspaper, foreign nationals pay 25,000 and 11,000 euros to get hunting permits for wild ram and bighorn sheep. The Iranian government receives between 500 and 1,000 euros from each hunting permit issued. The hunting tour companies receive the remaining 35,000 euros, and the local institutions get nothing.

Meanwhile, Israfil Shafizadeh, a tour organizer, has dismissed reports about the illegal hunting of animals nine years and younger, describing the claims as unfounded.

“The Department of Environment issued the hunting permit number 121.23533 to Sergey Mazurkevich, a Russian national, enabling him to travel to Iran on Dec. 11, 2018,” Mr. Shafizadeh said. “He held a valid permit, allowing him to hunt in a designated part of the Mansourabad game reserve in Dorbid, in Yazd Province. Guards and environmentalists accompanied him in the game reserve.”

According to the Tehran-based Etemad Meli newspaper, Mansourabad wildlife sanctuary in Dorbid is an exclusive hunting reserve where the Russian hunter [Sergey Mazurkevich] killed a nine-year-old wild ram whose horn was measured 94 centimeters. Hekmatollah Zare, an environmentalist employed by the Department of Environment, was present during the hunt, the report added.

“The second animal killed in the special game reserve in Yazd was a longhorn sheep,” Israfil Shafizadeh explained. “The Department of Environment had issued the permit after its experts had assessed the excess [animal] population.”

“The tour operator was solely responsible for facilitating the trip,” Shafizadeh noted. “The director of Yazd Department of Environment had signed the hunting permit, allowing the lawful hunt to take place on Feb. 20, 2019.”

“All efforts to facilitate the Russian hunter’s [Sergey Mazurkevich] trip to Iran were completely legal. The Ministry of Intelligence was aware of the Russian hunter’s visit to Iran,” Shafizadeh said. “The Iranian Foreign Ministry had issued a visa to him based on that information. An Officer from the Iranian Defense Ministry had cleared the Russian hunter’s gun upon his arrival at the airport.”

“The Department of Environment had issued a hunting permit for a wild ram and a longhorn sheep, in line with the hunting laws and regulations,” Shafizadeh noted. “Therefore, reports on the illegal killing of animals younger than nine are unfounded.”

“The Russian hunter paid $30,000 to get legal permits for killing a wild ram and a longhorn sheep in a game sanctuary in Yazd. The official environmentalists monitored his activities,” Shafizadeh added. “Sanctuaries receive 80 percent of the license fees, which will boost security, expand grazing land, develop water resources and increase the animal population in the sanctuaries.”

Link to the Farsi page

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