BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Readers no doubt reacted with revulsion to the revelation recorded photographically that three ratbags had hunted and killed two griffon vultures in the Republic of Armenia. The location of the crime was not identifiable from the picture that began circulating on social media a few weeks ago.
No one eats vultures. The very idea of eating a bird that regularly feasts on rotten, rancid, carrion is pretty repulsive. Add to that picture the fact that they end up covered in blood, guts, and feces since they access the corpse being eaten from any and all available apertures.
So why hunt these large birds that play an important role in cleaning up dead flesh and thereby preventing the spread of disease?
Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with hunting. It is one of the most natural things that humans and countless other animals do. But remorseless killing of creatures that are not to be eaten (e.g. the massacre of bison by agents of the United States to eliminate the source of the Indians food), when the killing is done purely for “pleasure”, “sport”, or for the sake of hanging a reindeer’s (or other cervine’s) rack in one’s rec room is rude, retrograde, and reasonless.
It turns out that the pictures are old, somewhere I saw a date of 2013. RoA officialdom is citing this fact. So what? Does that make it any less ridiculous to kill these creatures? (Two are shown held by three men.) We are also informed that police are investigating this crime. One of the reprobates has been identified as 37-year-old Shenavan village mayor Arthur Mkrtchian of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia. Another shining example of that party’s respect for the law…
We are also told that this sort of thing happens due to a lack of awareness of rules and law. I have some difficulty swallowing this explanation since awareness of the “red list” (an international system similar to the U.S.’s “endangered species” listings) seems pretty extensive among our compatriots. While the griffon vulture is not listed as endangered, it is in decline, with efforts in various European countries to reintroduce it in places it has gone extinct. Plus, this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened. Take a look (roughly) at the 14-minute- mark of this Youtube video titled “Բեզոարյան այծի որս Հայաստանում ԱՄՆ-ի քաղաքացիների կողմից” (Bezoar goat hunting by U.S. citizens in Armenia) showing the hunting of Capra aegagrus, predecessor of our domesticated goats, which has been on the red list as vulnerable since 1996.
Clearly, there’s an appetite for illegally killing animals that ought not to be hunted, at least for the time being.
The desire to hunt can legally be satisfied in the RoA. It turns out that erstwhile presidential candidate Kakig/Gagik Dzarookian has been given management rights over a tract of land meant to be used for hunting. Given that he is one of the wealthiest and best known “oligarchs” in Armenia, there’s no excuse for any rotters to go off the ranch and shoot animals clandestinely and illicitly. That revolting behavior is utterly repellent, repugnant, and revolting.
It’s just plain wrong.
In other times, poverty stricken peasant would be severely punished for trespassing onto kings’ and nobles’ estates to hunt food for their families. In the old American west, cattle rustlers would be summarily shot. While such extreme measures may be passé, they do provide some precedent and basis for severely penalizing the cretins who feel entitled to steal, from all of us, what little remains of our natural heritage.
We should be hollering as loudly about this deviant behavior as we do when bus fares go up unreasonably, Yerevan’s parks are paved over or converted to ritzy coffee shops, or mines are dug up and their neighboring villages up and down the length of the RoA are poisoned. Get busy and get loud, lest the worst among our compatriots eradicate some of the species endemic to the Armenian Highland and Caucasus Mountains.