Moscow, March 22 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russia is losing up to 200 polar bears every year to poachers in the far eastern Chukotka region, a global animal welfare and conservation charity group has said.
The trend poses a grave danger to the shrinking polar bear population in Chukotka, which currently stands at around 1,500, said Maria Vorontsova, who heads International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)'s Russian branch.
The figures "provided by the Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature" relate only to one of the four sub-populations of polar bear across the Russian Arctic.
"Nobody knows what's happening with two other sub-populations of the central Arctic, in the Kara Sea and the Laptev Sea," Vorontsova said. "There's no poaching in one other sub-population, which we share with Norway."
The total polar bear population across the Russian Arctic is estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000 animals.