Iran enjoys a rich diversity of wildlife species due to its rich geographical and climatic conditions. On the celebration of Endangered Species Day on 15th May, speaking of endangered wildlife species in Iran could contribute to saving these valuable species. Stay with us to know some of these rare yet attractive species.
The Caspian seal is the only marine mammal in the Caspian Sea and an iconic animal that can be found only in this region. The Caspian Sea is a unique and invaluable ecosystem where thousands of lives, either human beings or other sea creatures, are dependent. This lovely creature, migrate in large groups to the northern parts of the sea to breed during winter when it is freezing and the other times of the year it lives in the warmer southern regions in Iran.
Unfortunately, the population size of this mammal has been downsized by more than 90% in the last two decades due to poaching, especially in the freezing northern parts of the sea where they migrate in winter for breeding. The pups are born with white pelage and that’s why they are a more preferable target of poaching by the hunters.
Caspian seals have been listed as the “endangered” category according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). Species that fall into this category are endangered and their extinction factors must be addressed immediately. Considering Caspian Seal’s significant role in ecosystem health, the Caspian Seal Conservation Center has started a movement toward saving this creature since 2008. As a pioneer in ecotourism and a practitioner of corporate social responsibility (CSR), Iran Doostan Tours has also declared its supports and contributes to the endangered Caspian Seal project.
Asiatic cheetah is known as the world’s fastest land animal. The flexible spine, large lungs and heart, wide nostrils, and long muscular body have made this big cat-like animal the fastest land creature. It can attain a speed of 100 kph in only 3 seconds with quick high jumps.
The animal was once present in different places of Asia, but it has become extinct in those places and has only survived in the protected areas of Iran including Turan and Kavir National Parks and in some desert areas of Yazd, Isfahan, Kerman, and Khorasan Provinces. To enter these areas, one must take legal permission from the Iran Department of Environment and be accompanied by a forester or an expert. Though there is a rare chance of watching a cheetah, enough signs could still be found in its habitats.
The cheetah population has declined sharply to a population of less than 100 in recent years due to various reasons such as poaching, habitat destruction and occupation by humans and livestock, scarcity of prey to relying on as food, and recent droughts.
As the largest member of the cat family, the Iranian leopard is currently found only in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and the Caucasus, with a population of no more than 1,300.
Most of the population of Iranian leopards with about 550 to 850 are in the mountainous areas and forests of Iran, whose population rate has been declining in recent years and in some areas is completely extinct. That is why the leopard is considered a protected animal species in Iran and has been listed in the IUCN endangered list.
The main habitat of this animal is forests, and mountainous regions at high altitudes up to 3500 meters, and the areas close to rivers, while it can hardly be found in the foothills and also in wide plains.
Numerous factors have been identified that threaten the life of this valuable species such as hunting, prey poisoning, road accidents, and habitat loss due to road construction. A sharp decline occurred in the main prey of leopards including the goats, rams, ewes, and deer as a result of reckless poaching, which are other threats to the species.
Lynx; The Iranian wild cat
The lynx, known as one of the heaviest and fastest, and most beautiful little cats in the world, can mainly be found on the edge of the central desert of Iran.
According to the rules of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lynx is an endangered species. The extinction of the species Lynx is dependent on food and habitat destruction are the most important factors that have threatened the lynx. It is also been listed in the IUCN (NT) category.
There is no exact estimation of its population in Iran, and the protection of this rare species requires serious planning.
Persian yellow deer
As a remarkably beautiful wildlife species, the Persian yellow deer is distinguished from other similar kinds by its yellow color and white spots on its back. This species often lives in the forests and of Khuzestan province, in the southwest of Iran. The gorgeous animal on its greenery surrounding is many photographers’ favorite subject.
The population of yellow deer has decreased greatly due to the destruction of its natural habitats and overhunting. Today, the distribution of this lovely animal is limited to some protected areas of Iran including Dez, Karkheh, Naz plain of Sari, Ashk Island, Dena Protected Area, and Kaboudan Island.
With an estimated number of about 400 to 500, Persian yellow deer have been considered as one of the endangered wildlife species according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has also listed it as endangered wildlife species.
Hawksbill Sea Turtle
This uniquely gorgeous reptile is mainly found in the Atlantic Ocean, India, and the Pacific in general. And its habitat in Iran is the Persian Gulf, including the provinces of Hormozgan, Qeshm islands, Kish-e-Shidor, Hindurabi, Hengam and Hormoz, Nakhilo, and Amal-e-Karam, and Bushehr.it has a hard yet attractive shell, which has led to its uncontrolled hunting and endangerment.
Unfortunately, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle has favorable survival conditions neither in Iran nor in the world; that is why it has been included in the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) list of the most endangered wildlife species.
Human factors are considered the most prominent reason for the turtle’s extinction, activities such as the turtle trade for its nutritional value and meat and medical applications of the eggs, and also the shell to be used in the fashion industry.
Many environmentalists, eco-tourists, and photographers are attracted to the Southern islands of Iran o visit this rare species in the blue waters of the Persian Gulf.