09:54 07 Nov 2023

Russian occupiers steal animals from Askania-Nova biosphere reserve in Kherson region – National Resistance Center

The Russian forces removed animals from the Askania-Nova nature reserve in the occupied Kherson region.

The National Resistance Center reported that the theft of animals took place as part of the "cooperation agreement," signed by a Russian "protégé" appointed to Askania-Nova. The actions are illegal, and the agreement is invalid because the person who signed the contract is the real director of the reserve.

"The enemy is simply stealing animals and destroying a unique nature reserve," the center said in a statement.

National Resistance also reported that after the abduction of the animals, the occupation administration transported them to the Krasnodar Zoo Safari Park.

According to the center, Russian military personnel were also spotted on the reserve's territory.

"Everyone responsible for this crime will be held accountable after the de-occupation of the region. You can report an enemy or a collaborator using the link," the National Resistance added.

Earlier, activists of the UAnimals movement reported that the occupiers established their administration in the Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve.

What we know about the situation in the Askania-Nova reserve

The Russian aggressors registered the occupied biosphere reserve "Askania-Nova" located in the Kakhovka district of the occupied Kherson region in the Russian state register of legal entities. Russian Dmitry Meshcheryakov was appointed as its director.

The Ukrainian reserve employees learned about this on March 20, 2022, during a visit of Russia-appointed governor and collaborator Volodymyr Saldo and the representative of Putin's administration, Sergey Kiriyenko. The new "director" announced that he would "develop" tourism in the protected area.

In November 2022, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Russia was committing ecocide in Ukraine. As a result of hostilities, hectares of forest were burned, and millions of domestic and wild animals were killed.

In March 2023, the Center for Journalistic Investigations, citing Russian registration documents, reported that the Russian occupiers wanted to shoot wild animals in the Dzharylhach National Nature Park, which is in the occupied part of the Kherson region.

According to the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group, new threats were added by the August-September fires of this year. 1,790 hectares of the protected steppe burned during the last fire, which occurred on September 1 due to a lightning strike. This is evidenced by the data satellite images.

This fire has so far become the largest that occurred in the reserve during the occupation. Read more about it in our article: Fires in one of the largest biosphere reserves of Ukraine: what can be done to preserve ecosystems?


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