Iran is not only a country of majestic mosques, palaces and bazaars, but it is also home to many rare animal and plant species putting Iran on the top list of untouched destinations for the nature avid. Many of these species are listed as highly endangered that makes protecting them even more vital.
Not in far future could rare animal species such as Baluchistan bear, Asiatic cheetah, Caspian seal, Persian fallow deer, Siberian white crane, hawksbill turtle, green turtle, Oxus cobra, Latifis viper, Persian leopard, Caspian Sea wolf and many others be wiped out and we no longer have the chance to see them in the nature.
Here is a list of 5 highly endangered animal species in Iran wildlife. We enlarge upon this list to include all endangered animal and plant species in Iran. We believe through awareness we can foster understanding and appreciation. We do not promote passive watching of these endangered species as the term “doom tourism” may suggest but we hope to promote protecting them.
The most significant species critically endangered on the IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List is Asiatic Cheetah also known as Persian Cheetah or Iranian Cheetah (scientific name: Acinoyx jubatus veraticus). Geographically, Asiatic Cheetah existed in Saudi Arabia, central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and the Indian subcontinent. It seems that the cheetah has merely remained in Iran nowhere else since 1990s. Recently Iranian biologist Hormoz Asadi has estimated the cheetah number is fewer than 50, which are mostly in the central deserts of Iran and the areas between the border of Iran and Pakistan. It is estimated that only two female Asiatic cheetahs are still alive, one of them is in Turan National Park and the other is in the Miandasht wildlife refuge (the number may be higher). Hunting, road accidents, and change of habitat are the major factors threatening their survival.
Another specie which is highly endangered is the Siberian crane, also known as the Siberian white crane or the snow crane (scientific name: Grus leucogeranus). Its unique feature is its special appearance with a white plumage, the white cap and red mask and also serrated bill for eating easily. In general, the cranes have 15 different species. Historically Siberian crane divide into 3 main population of eastern, western and central. The eastern population winters in China and it is in fact the only significant population remained (about 3000 birds). The central population which once wintered in India is extinct and the western population that winters in northern Iran, might extinct soon.
Now, only one Siberin Crane migrate to Iran and locals named it Omid (meaning hope). The last migration of Omid was on October 30th of 2016 and after covering 78,000km from the far north of western Siberia to Fereydoonkenar lagoon near south coast of Caspian Sea.
Hawksbill turtle (scientific name: Eretmochelys imbricata) of the Chelonidae family is the next on our list. It is highly endangered species due to extensive illegal overfishing. This species of turtles has a worldwide distribution and they live in the warm waters around the world. A small population of Hawksbill live in Persian Gulf. This species of turtles are beneficial for the environment and ecosystem as a cleaner of the beaches and infections of the sea.
Persian zebra or the Persian onager is a native Asiatic wild ass to Iran. Persian onager is called “Gur” in Persian or the scientific name of Equus hemionus onager. Asiatic wild ass is larger than the African subspecies. These fast mammals can run as fast as 64 km/h and now live in deserts and arid parts of Iran, Pakistan, India, Mongolia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China.
Persian zebra is critically endangered and lives only in the protected area of Bahram Gur and Touran National Park of Iran. Although there is no exact count of this animal, but the last official number announced for Persian Zebra is just 330.
Persian Fallow Deer
Persian fallow deer or gavazn-e zard as called in Persian language is an endangered ruminant mammal with the scientific name of Dama dama mesopotamica. This mammal is larger than the European fallow deer. The Persian fallow deer could be found also in North Africa and Middle East, but due to hunting it is now extinct in all other regions but Iran. However, it was thought to be totally distinct by the year 1951 until 1955 when a limited number were found in a dense forest in Iran near Iraqi border.
The Persian fallow deer now only lives in small groups; one in Khuzestan in southern Iran, two small protected areas in northern Iran in Mazandaran, an island in Lake Urmia, and a protected area in Israel. The later population was produced after the discovered group in western Iran in 1955 which were completely moved to Israel.
These are just a handful of animal species which need immediate protective actions. Asiatic cheeta and Omid, the sibrien crane, may no longer be with us few years later.
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