Putin’s animal antics questioned in Russia

By Maria Antonova (AFP) – 19 hours ago

MOSCOW — “There’s a good kitty, a pretty kitty,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was shown by state media telling snow leopard last weekend, who stared back at him, covered in fresh blood.

The rare species is the latest to go under “personal control” of the Russian leader, who is overseeing research programs on a handful of mammals, including the tiger, beluga whale and polar bear.

As part of that work he has taken part in several tagging missions with scientists from the Moscow-based Severtsov Institute.

But other scientists have said the snow leopard was harmed, and that the program is scientifically unreasonable and directed more towards publicity.

The leopard, called Mongol, had to be flown to Khakasia, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) away from its habitat in the Sayano-Shushensky reserve, and was held in captivity for five days, released only after meeting Putin.

The removal of the animal was “criminal”, according to the regional UNDP-funded programme on biodiversity, since the Severtsov institute only had permission to tag Mongol, which could have been done in 15 minutes.

On Sunday, the Severtsov institute said on its website that the animal had to be held and treated for wounds on his neck and cheekbone.

“He was ill,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP, dismissing allegations that the animal had been held captive in order to meet the prime minister as “absolutely groundless.”

But Alexander Bondarev, the manager of UNDP’s program, argued: “That any treatment was necessary is a big question.

“It is as though he was cured as soon as he saw the prime minister,” he added.

“If he really needed treatment, he could be treated in a zoo or in a veterinary center.”

Mongol could even have harmed himself as he was trying to break loose, said another observer.

“The important question is: how was the animal affected by staying in a cage?” said WWF Russia head Igor Chestin.

“Big cats, when disturbed, start hitting against it and can break their teeth, and without teeth they will not survive in the wild.”

There are only 100 snow leopards in Russia. “Each is literally golden,” said Bondarev.

They were easier to catch in the Sayano-Shushensky reserve, but tagging its population was not scientifically valuable, he added.

“There are only seven or eight specimens there, they are isolated and well studied,” he said. Tagging had to be done together with on-ground monitoring to see why the animal was moving in a certain way, he added.

“That cannot be done in a strictly protected area such as a reserve,” he said.

The Severtsov institute’s program, which studies animals in the Red Book of endangered species “and other especially important animals of Russia” currently lists six mammals, most of which were tagged, patted, or kissed by Putin.

The programme is funded by state oil transport monopoly Transneft, and a Saint Petersburg-based charitable fund “Konstantinovsky”, which is chaired mostly by government officials.

The first time the general public heard about it was in 2008, when Putin voiced support for the endangered Amur Tiger and participated in a tagging expedition in the Russian Far East.

A video about the expedition on the prime minister’s website relates how a helicopter carrying Vladimir Putin landed in the taiga.

Just as the prime minister is overseeing the facilities, “a tigress stumbles across a trap,” the video relates.

Putin personally drives the SUV to the scene, and “appears on the trail just at the moment the tigress makes a leap.” Handy with a gun, Putin shoots a syringe with the sedative, says the video’s commentary.

But that version of events does not gel with that told by some members of the conservation community, as one Far Eastern tiger expert told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Local conservationists believe the animal was flown in from the Khabarovsk zoo (about 500 kilometres away) in time for the visit.

It was placed in the trap, sedated just enough so it could start stirring when the delegation drove up, he said.

Later the animal was returned to the zoo and a different wild tigress was eventually captured and released with the tracker.

“This could be confirmed by a stripe pattern comparison,” the source said: “For each animal the pattern is unique.”

The big cat programmes advertised as pioneering on the Institute’s website have no synergy with local research, which has been going on for 18 years, he added.

“They like to say their project is supported by the government, so nobody voices any serious criticism. But locally scientists don’t like them, since they structure programmes based on convenience and PR.”

At the WWF, Chestin complained of low salaries, a cut in the number of rangers and other changes introduced after the government did away with its federal environmental protection committee.

“While considerable money is being spent lately on research, systematically, conservation of animals is in very poor shape,” he said.

It was Putin himself who signed the decree to end the committee’s existence on May 17th, 2000, ten days after his inauguration.

Copyright © 2011 AFP

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6 Responses to “Putin’s animal antics questioned in Russia”

  1. admin Says:

    Snow Leopard ‘harmed’ for Vladimir Putin photo opportunity
    Vladimir Putin was filmed by the Russian state media meeting a snow leopard in what was meant to be a good news story for the Prime Minister.

    However, it has now been claimed that the leopard, called Mongol, was injured and held in captivity for five days in order to meet the Russian leader.

    The rare species is the latest to go under “personal control” of the Prime Minister, who is overseeing research programs on a handful of mammals, including the tiger, beluga whale and polar bear.

    As part of that work he has taken part in several tagging missions with scientists from the Moscow-based Severtsov Institute.

    But other scientists have said the snow leopard was harmed, and that the program is scientifically unreasonable and directed more towards publicity.

    The leopard, called Mongol, had to be flown to Khakasia, about 100 miles away from its habitat in the Sayano-Shushensky reserve, and was held in captivity for five days, released only after meeting Putin.

    The removal of the animal was “criminal”, according to the regional UNDP-funded programme on biodiversity, since the Severtsov institute only had permission to tag Mongol, which could have been done in 15 minutes.

    On Sunday, the Severtsov institute said on its website that the animal had to be held and treated for wounds on his neck and cheekbone.

    “He was ill,” Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told AFP, dismissing allegations that the animal had been held captive in order to meet the prime minister as “absolutely groundless.”

    Video may be seen at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8412080/Snow-Leopard-harmed-for-Vladimir-Putin-photo-opportunity.html

  2. admin Says:

    Putin criticized over claims snow leopard in photo shoot was abducted from reserve
    By Roland Oliphant, Daily Telegraph March 28, 2011 Vladimir Putin has become embroiled in an animal cruelty row after the World Wildlife Fund claimed a snow leopard used in his latest macho photo shoot was abducted from a nature reserve, injured and held for a week.

    The Russian prime minister met the male snow leopard earlier this month when he visited a conservation program in the central Siberian region of Khakassia. Named Mongol, it had been captured 100 miles away in Krasnayask a week earlier.

    The meeting followed the usual format for Mr Putin’s visits. He arrived by snowmobile before he was pictured admiring Mongol who had been weighed, measured and tagged with a radio collar. The leopard was then flown back to Krasnayask and released.

    Mr Putin has previously been seen tagging polar bears, Siberian tigers and Beluga whales. The prime minister presides over conservation projects for each of these species and the animals he has tagged can be followed using the government website.

    Snow leopards are one of the world’s most endangered species. There are only about 100 in Russia, making them rarer than the Siberian tiger. A snow leopard has been chosen as a mascot for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, one of Mr Putin’s pet projects. But some Russian scientists are questioning why Mongol was held in captivity for a week before Mr Putin’s visit on March 19. The official explanation is that the scientists found lacerations from a hunter’s snare and fresh injuries to his face and decided to keep Mongol in for treatment.

    But the Novaya Gazeta newspaper has reported that the snare was the scientists’ own, and it sustained facial injuries while trying to escape. “Seeking freedom, he lunged at the iron bars and broke his nose,” reported the paper, citing conservationists.

    The prime minister’s spokesman said that Mongol was “ill” and allegations that the animal had been held to meet Mr Putin were groundless. But there is skepticism about Mr Putin’s good fortune in stumbling over endangered species. In one photo shoot in 2008, a Siberian tiger stumbled into a trap just as he was visiting a conservation project in the Far East. The tiger was reported to have escaped its bonds and lunged at its captors, who were only saved by Mr Putin’s tranquilliser dart gun.

    © Copyright (c) The Daily Telegraph

    Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Putin+criticized+over+claims+snow+leopard+photo+shoot+abducted+from/4516412/story.html#ixzz1I0SYqFQk

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/entertainment/Putin+criticized+over+claims+snow+leopard+photo+shoot+abducted+from/4516412/story.html

  3. admin Says:

    Russian Prime Minister criticized over claims for abducted and injured for a week to snow leopard

    Posted On Wednesday, 30 Mar 2011

    By Manish Jagad.

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is being criticized over claims that a snow leopard used in a macho photo shoot was abducted from reserve,injured and held for a week.Putin met the male snow leopard earlier this month when he visited a conservation program in the central Siberian region of Khakassia.Named Mongol,it had been captured 100 miles away in Krasnayask a week earlier.

    The meeting followed the usual format for the prime ministers high octane visits.He arrived by snowmobile before he was pictured admiring Mongol who had been weighed and tagged with a radio collar.The leopard was then flown back to Krasnayask and released,reports the Telegraph.Putin has previously been seen tagging polar bears,Siberian tigers and Beluga whales.

    The prime minister presides over conservation projects for each of these species and the animals he has tagged can be followed using the government website.Snow leopards are one of the worlds most endangered species.There are only about 100 in Russia,making them rarer than the Siberian Tiger.

    http://www.mbpecapital.com/?p=6269

  4. admin Says:

    Putin embroiled in animal cruelty row
    March 29, 2011 – 4:57 pm
    London, Mar 29 (ANI): Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is being criticized over claims that a snow leopard used in the latest macho photo shoot was abducted from reserve, injured and held for a week.

    Putin met the male snow leopard earlier this month when he visited a conservation program in the central Siberian region of Khakassia. Named Mongol, it had been captured 100 miles away in Krasnayask a week earlier.

    The meeting followed the usual format for the prime minister’s high octane visits.

    He arrived by snowmobile before he was pictured admiring Mongol who had been weighed, measured and tagged with a radio collar.

    The leopard was then flown back to Krasnayask and released, reports the Telegraph.

    Putin has previously been seen tagging polar bears, Siberian tigers and Beluga whales.

    The Prime Minister presides over conservation projects for each of these species and the animals he has tagged can be followed using the government website.

    Snow leopards are one of the world’s most endangered species. There are only about 100 in Russia, making them rarer than the Siberian Tiger.

    Meanwhile, some Russia scientists have questioned why Mongol was abducted from his home in a nature reserve, airlifted 100 miles to a neighbouring region, and held in captivity for a week before Putin’s visit on March 19.

    The official explanation is that the scientists found lacerations from a hunter’s snare and fresh injuries to his face – presumably incurred in fights during the rut – and decided to keep Mongol in for treatment.

    But the Novaya Gazeta daily has reported that the snare was the scientists’ own, and he sustained facial injuries while trying to escape.

    Putin’s spokesman told said that Mongol was ‘ill’ and allegations the animal had been held to meet Putin were groundless. (ANI)

    http://truthdive.com/2011/03/29/Putin-embroiled-in-animal-cruelty-row.html

  5. admin Says:

    14 April 2011 Last updated at 19:09 ET
    Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics making ‘strong progress’
    By Bill Wilson
    Business reporter, BBC News

    ‘Symbol of regeneration’

    Another source of income for the Sochi organisers comes through the three mascots chosen for the event.

    Sochi 2014 executives are hoping to raise money form licensing deals around the games’ mascots Mr Chernyshenko hopes to raise up to $50m in licensing revenues, with the “main driver” being the sales of the games’ mascots, approved last month in a public vote.

    The mascots, which should go on sale from 1 September, are the snow leopard, polar bear and hare.

    The reintroduction of the snow leopard in the wild is a project particularly close to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s heart. The bear is seen as the grandson of Misha – the symbol of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. And it is hoped the hare will appeal to a female audience.

    “The snow leopard is a symbol of Russia’s regeneration,” says Mr Chernyshenko, showing off the three mascot designs on his laptop screen.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13057071

  6. admin Says:

    Unlreated news story but photo caption mentions the snow leopard capture: Putin boasts of Russia’s rich hunting grounds. Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, has boasted that no other country has such rich opportunities for hunting.

    “There’s a good kitty, a pretty kitty,” Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was shown by state media telling snow leopard last weekend, who stared back at him, covered in fresh blood.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8521712/Putin-boasts-of-Russias-rich-hunting-grounds.html

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