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Closer look: Our work in Armenia

Closer Look: Our work in Armenia. Credit: Gareth Goldthorpe/FFI.
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Written by: Gareth Goldthorpe
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Our focus on wildlife trade has expanded to Armenia where, since 2014, FFI have been conducting assessments; surveying the habits, practices and knowledge of natural resource harvesters and analysing the various outlets and vendors of wildlife goods as well as the legal movement of products in and out of the country.

Our on-going concern with the persecution of large carnivores embroiled in conflicts over livestock is also a focus in Armenia with a long-term engagement with local stakeholders to work towards a national policy for managing human-wildlife conflict. Baseline surveys carried out with local partners has already shown that depredation by wolves on sheep and cattle cost low-income farmers up to 22% of their income.

The study of public opinion and knowledge or ‘human dimensions research’ has become an important element of carnivore conservation management and, in Armenia FFI has worked to more fully understand attitudes and perceptions towards large carnivores. Using a questionnaire, first developed in Georgia a team from the American University of Armenia implemented a “Knowledge, Attitudes & Perceptions” survey in several sites throughout rural Armenia.

Our findings so far show that, as in Georgia, public attitudes in rural Armenia are more negative towards wolves than to bears and the consensus is that fear of wolves is widespread in communities with almost all thinking that wolves are dangerous. However, almost all agree that wolves belong in the wild and there is strong support for the creation of protected areas.

FFI is also working with the Global Trees Campaign and local NGOs in Armenia to better understand the distribution of and threats to some of the regions’ most critically endangered trees. In the south of the country, for example, FFI is working at the Her-Her Wild Pear Sanctuary to find out what needs to be done to secure the protection of a narrow-endemic pear species, Pyrus gergerana, found only in a few sites in Southern Armenia.

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Gareth Goldthorpe

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