Two years ago, Steve Presnal’s dream came true when he embarked on a hunt for Siberian ibex in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan Mountains. With two friends, the 49-year-old from the US state of Wisconsin had booked a trip through an international agent who set them up with a Karakol-based hunting guide. But that guide got the three arrested.
“The hunt itself couldn’t have gone better. Each of us shot a perfect trophy ibex. But as soon as we were back at the camp, the trouble started,” Presnal said. Their guide, despite his assurances, had no permission to lead a hunt in the region.
The problem, say Kyrgyz officials eager to harness the revenues from adventure hunting, is the opaque way the business is regulated. The process breads scams, encourages poaching, and does little to protect threatened species.
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Adriane Lochner is a Bishkek-based journalist.