Iran’s Wildlife Under Threat

When a big cat and her two cubs were found dead by the
roadside in northeast Iran recently, it was a further blow to the survival
prospects of one of the world’s rarest animals.

The Iranian cheetah is the last survivor of a subspecies – a
close relative of its African cousin – that once roamed from the Middle East to
India, and there are believed to be only 70 to 100 left, so the loss of any
individual makes extinction ever more likely.

Iran’s large territory, varying from thick forest to high
mountains and hot deserts, means it is home to an astonishing range of animal,
birds and fish species. But 81 species – including the cheetah – are on the
verge of extinction, with a further 56 under threat from habitat destruction and
hunting.

Dr Borhan Riyazi, professor of environmental studies at the
Islamic Azad University, cites other examples like the goitred gazelle and the
Persian wild ass, the latter once widespread but now restricted to the Bahram
Gur National Park in Fars province and the Turan Reserve in Semnan.

Iran has been a signatory to the international Convention on
Biological Diversity since 1996, but like many other countries it faces a
continuing loss of natural habitat and wildlife, despite having over 130
conservation zones.

The United Nations has designated 2010 the International Year
of Biodiversity and encouraged memb…

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