Leopards in Crisis in Northern Iran
In order to enhance local people’s knowledge about the Persian leopard, meeting was held within a hotspot community. North Central Alborz Protected Area is one of the most important habitats for the leopards in Iran which has been hosting our research programs on the area’s carnivores, including the Persian leopard since 2006. However, due to prey depletion, serious conflict occurs sometimes between human and leopards, resulting in livestock loss for local people and consequently, poaching for the leopards. Recently, community meeting was held in a local mosque during Ramadan celebrations when most of people are present in the village. Attended by more than 150 people, some clips about the area has been shown to the people supplemented by speeches about the leopard ecology and ramifications of leopard removal from the area. The ICS is now finalizing a 2 episodes wildlife documentary movie about the area’s wildlife, including the Persian leopard which will be concluded in coming fall which will be a promising tool to spread wildlife knowledge among numerous local communities within and around the area aiming to protect the area’s rich biodiversity.
As a result of the Iranian Cheetah Society’s continuous researches in the area funded by Dutch Zoo Conservation Fund, livestock comprises a significant portion of the leopards’ diet in the area and during the [present summer, at least 5 cows were killed by the leopard(s) around this community. On the other hand, during past years 3 males as well as 3 females were poached by local people and we believe that the animal is facing a drastic decline, putting its future into a crisis which needs immediate attention of Iranian Department of Environment.