“One year after the start of “Capacity Building of Local Community to Conserve Persian Leopard in Caucasus Eco-Region” project, it has just entered the assessment of leopard conflict status with local people in northern Iran, lying within the Caucasus Eco-Region.
In this project, it is considered to design solution and action for conflict management with local community participation as one of the first experience of using participatory approach to mitigate human wildlife conflict in Iran.
After assessing public attitude toward leopard, this project was entered understanding livelihood of local community phase that is at end of its way. In this phase, social and natural map of villages were drawn by local people. The seasonal calendar technique was also utilized to know the pattern of lives and livelihood of villagers during a year. To complete this step, the project team has already conducted regular field missions to hold meetings with local herders, elders, vulnerable groups and other different groups of local community.
It is worth mentioning that Persian leopard as the biggest cat in Iran is endangered and according to IUCN 2008 assessment for subspecies, the most urgent threat is ever-increasing fragmentation into a patchy network of distant and often too small sub-populations, particularly in the Caucasus Eco-region which corridors are urgently needed to explore in order to link fragmented populations. Meanwhile, prey depletion is a major concern in Iranian Caucasus (including our project site) which results in human-leopard conflict due to livestock depredation. The present project is implemented in partnership with Iranian Department of Environment and UK’s People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES).”