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Wahid Zamani

Wahid Zamani

Academic rank: Assistant Professor
ORCID:
Education: PhD.
ScopusId: 21325
Faculty: Faculty of Natural Resources
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Research

Title
The biggest threats to wildlife of Iran
Type
Speech
Keywords
Wildlife, Iran, Habitat destruction, Poaching
Year
2020
Researchers Wahid Zamani

Abstract

Because of the vast extension of latitude, two stretched mountain ranges in the north and the west as well as vicinity with Caspian Sea and Indian Ocean, Iran has divers climates. The country is characterized by 9 climate types out of 31 possible Köppen-Geiger. From an ecological point of view, Iran is divided into three phytogeographical regions; the Euxino-Hyrcanian Province of the Euro-Siberian region in the north; the Saharo- Sindian Region in the south; and the Irano-Turanian Region in the western and central sectors of the country(Sabeti 1976). Iran is located in the borders of 3 zoogeographic realms, main part is inside the Palearctic and is influenced by Ethiopian and Oriental from South-West and South-East. Having such a ecosystem diversity and various habitats made Iran origin of rich fauna and flora. 8000 native plant species have been recorded, also the number of Iran’s bird species is almost equal to European bird species. In terms of the vertebrate species Iran has high diversity such as 200 mammal species, 540 bird species, 224 reptile species, 126 fish species (inland waters) and 22 amphibian species. Thanks to divers habitats Iran was the home of 10 felidae species until the last century. Unfortunately, during early decades of 19th century Asian lion and Caspian tiger went extinct respectively due to poaching and habitat destruction. Nowadays 8 wild cat species as well as 19 terrestrial carnivore species including grey wolf and brown bear live inside border of Iran (Yusefi et al., 2019). At least 25 mammal species and 32 bird species are threatened, among these species leopard (Panthera pardus), black bear (Ursus thibetanus) and Asiatic wild ass (Equus hemionus) have experienced dramatic population decline, more importantly Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) is critically endangered. Iran’s total area is 1,648,000 square kilometers. 10.77% of this area (17764531.03 hectares) is protected within 31 national parks, 169 protected areas, 46 wildlife refuges and 38 national monuments. Despite of conservation of these protected areas, insufficient number of rangers and lack of equipment leads to heavy poaching every season. According to the experts and statistics of DOE (Department of Environment), since 2007 to 2020 more than 115 leopards were poached. Although there is no accurate statistic about herbivores poaching during the same period, the number of poached artiodactyls are about several thousand each year, mainly because of the popular demands for their meet. Additionally, experts mention more than 1.5 million poached migratory birds in Iran, annually. Habitat destruction are one of the most important reasons of wildlife population decline, destructive activities and land use change, during last decades eventuated into habitat fragmentation and population fragmentation, subsequently. Unsustainable development, isolated protected areas among matrix of different land uses, which resulted in dramatic decrease in migration rate and gene flow causing wildlife populations vulnerable to extinction; such as local extinction of cheetah, leopard and the other big carnivores in many habitats around the country. Unsustainable road construction as an important factor of habitat destruction causes numerus road casualties in addition to fragment habitats every year. Based on recent studies during 2007 to 2015 animal-vehicle crash was the first effective factor of carnivore’s mortality and half of mammal’s death (Mousavi et al., 2016). Unfortunately, a heavy traffic road divided Golestan national park (the most important national park and the first protected area of Iran) into the northern and the southern parts. Heavy traffic of this road, connecting North of Iran to the East, causes plenty road casualties of threatened species annually. 39% of Iran wildlife road casualties and 78% of leopard death happens in this road (Mousavi et al., 2016). 588 Wildlife-vehicle collisions occurred from 2005 to 2015 including 33