Home Back Forward June 27, 1998: Helping to protect South Kamchatka for our cubs

Our cubs in the fog

Maureen talking to Chico and Rosie


From Charlie:

Today is foggy and wet after several days of clear, hot and windy weather. Maureen is busy in her studio ( which doubles as a tool shed) working on this season's art; I am improving my typing skills; the cubs wandered through a while ago looking a bit bored with the day. I went with them out to the lake where they played on the bank where the snow is being eroded by the waves.

Yesterday we started out on a long walk with them but at 11:00AM, a helicopter came over the ridge from the north and landed by the cabin. This doesn't happen very often so we decided to go back and see who it was. We found the director of the Committee for Ecology and Nature Protection and his chief officer, Tatiana Gordienko - the woman who also works with us. She is someone who has encouraged us to discuss with her the problems of this sanctuary. They told us that with the help we plan to give them along with their own initiatives, they will have a program in place to begin to control the poaching in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary by early July. The plan is to place three control officers at critical locations through-out the sanctuary . One of these will be at a cabin at the mouth of the Kambalnoe River, 10 miles west of here. Many times we have questioned why we go to so much trouble to reintroduce cubs when they could so easily be shot for their gall bladder. We had decided a couple of weeks ago that without this problem being solved we could not continue our program beyond this year and we were somewhat relieved that no new orphan cubs showed up this year before this issue was resolved. Now we feel grateful that our concerns were taken seriously and honored that they came to celebrate their initiative with us, which we did with some great Russian cognac!

GALL BLADDERS: they are dried and used in Asian countries for medicines largely associated with stomach problems. We have also heard of the powder mixed with vodka and used as a healing linemant for muscle ailments and strains.
A year ago it became evident that there was a crisis at Kurilskoe Lake 20 miles from here(an easy day's walk for a bear). From my plane I observed what was happening . I saw poachers several times and later discovered dead bears when walking on foot. The scientists who work at the research station there, estimated that between 50 and 70 bears were illegally killed with only their gall bladders removed.

I have also noticed that the behavior of the bears around the lake has changed. The survivors have become very fearful of man unlike what we experienced there in previous years.

This is the first step that has been taken to secure the future of our cubs beyond the time that we might be here and even though there are things that could yet go wrong,we are proud of the start that has been made.

© Lenticular Productions Ltd. 1998