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The Return of Colchis Pheasants

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, June 9
An incubator and breeding Centre was opened for hatching endangered Colchis Pheasant in the Vashlovani Protected Areas on June 6. Deputy Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, Niels Scott, Head of UNDP in Georgia, and Rati Japaridze, Chairman of the Agency of Protected Areas attended the meeting. Illegal hunting and destroying nature were named as the major reason for endangering birds and animals in Georgia.

From 2014-2015, over 1,000 species of Colchis Pheasants will be brought back to their habitat – the natural monument Eagle Valley, Kolkheti National Park, Ivri, Alazani and Mtkvari floodplain. Pheasants will be also handed over to local households for care and breeding. The incubator is equipped with solar panels to guarantee an unimpeded operation. It also includes special areas for baby pheasants and grown-up species. The incubator was established by the local organization Friends Association of Vashlovani Protected Areas with funds from the UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme and the additional co-funding from Mercy Corps, GIZ, Agency of Protected Areas and hunting farms.

Niels Scott stated that in many cases, people’s unreasonable actions could destroy the planet, but still we have the power to reverse the harm that has been done.”

Amiran Kodiashvili, head of the Friends Association of Vashlovani Protected Areas told The Messenger that 300 pheasants would be delivered to three hunting areas as well. According to him, from an economic and ecologic point of view, the areas provide the best environment.

“If we see that hunting areas fulfilled their aim appropriately and encouraged the pheasants’ maintenance and reproduction, the incubator will be utilized for other rare bird reproduction,” Kodiashvili stated.

Head of Georgia’s Hunting and Fishing Association, Gocha Koberidze, explained to us why the hunting areas are the best sites for providing protection for pheasants and other animals or birds. He stressed that only those animals or birds are allowed to be killed are those that are old enough or have certain defects.

“The selection process encourages reproduction and maintenance of the young generation. The process is vital for the sustainable usage of nature,” Koberidze said, stating that a new law is being drafted.

“Those who are keen on hunting will have to get special licenses to be allowed in the forests. We will also have specially trained staff who will accompany hunters and observe the hunting process. Unfortunately, we lack such staff and initially we will have to invite foreign experts,” Koberidze said. He also stated that Georgians still lack awareness that they create dangers to nature through illegal hunting or environment pollution.

Paata Shanshiashvili from U.S. Department of the Interior told The Messenger that in Georgia, people and officials believe that development requires sacrifice from nature.

“This is the wrong approach, and the United States is an example for protecting nature and development at the same time,” he said.

Rati Japaridze did not exclude that there are problems in terms of illegal approaches to nature. However, he noted that after signing the Association Agreement with the EU, the problem would be significantly resolved.

“A legislation background will be created, and all, including ministries, will have to meet the articles of the legislation. Otherwise, they will face problems with NGOs and the court.”

Japaridze also stated that problems in terms of public attitudes towards nature have not been recognized appropriately.

“There is a low culture regarding public attitudes to nature. Active information policy and strict fines afterward would be one of the key points concerning the problem. The process of improvement has already been launched, we are on the right path and the problem will be addressed.”