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Relations of WWF-Armenia and Nature Protection Ministry have deteriorated after scandal over Khosrov reserve.
The position of the Khosrove reserve director has become a large stumbling block. Last year a poacher Gabriel Poghosyan (nickname Nono) was due to get that position. Then, the Caucasus Nature Fund (CNF) suspended funds of the Khosrov reserve as a sign of protest, with WWF-Armenia terminating its work in the protected area. After that scandal, the Ministry of Nature Protection expressed readiness to announce a new contest for the post of the director for March 15
Talking to ArmInfo, Head of WWF-Armenia Karen Manvelyan said that the relations with the Ministry have grown tense over that scandal and the communication is at the level of correspondence now.
"However, our stance has not changed. The Khosrov reserve must be headed by a proper person," Manvelyan said.
He said that terminating the work of WWF in Khosrov Reserve he acted within his competence.
"As far as I know, the Ministry applied to WWF Office afterwards. They at WWF know that we cannot support a poacher's nominee,' he said. After the director is chosen, WWF Armenia will decide weather to further contribute to the reserve or not.
"This reserve is an etalon of nature and its director must be a role model, with relevant higher education and work experience. A degree in science is desirable. We will be happy if such candidates are found," Manvelyan said.
Since 2002 WWF has implemented 3 projects in the amount of $500,000 at Khosrov reserve. The employees of the reserve were provided with vehicles, uniform and the necessary devices. In addition, tourist routes with the necessary posters and signs have been created at the reserve. CNF, in turn, was to complete a three-year project of assistance to Khosrov reserve last year. The project costs over 2500,000 EUR. Till the end of 2012 CNF was to transfer the last 40,000 EUR, but the amount has been frozen as a sign of protest against Gabriel Poghosyan's appointment.
Khosrov reserve was created in 1958. A total of 1849 species of plants, that make up over half of Armenia's flora (3500 species) and one-third of the Caucasus' flora (nearly 6 thsd species) grow in an area of 23878 ha. Here one can also find such animals included in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature as leopard, Armenian moufflon, and bezoar goat.
Last autumn scandal arouse after activists revealed facts of illegal hunting in the territory of the reserve. Director of the reserve was dismissed. At present Hrachya Hovakimyan, deputy director of the reserve in 1992-1994, is acting director.