Mammal species in Iran facing gradual extinction: expert

September 8, 2015 - 0:0

Iran contains a wide variety of fauna, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, amongst others. Most of these animal species are classified as “unknown” in the categories of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to lack of proper scientific techniques.

However, according to researchers, most of the animal species populations are declining in Iran, which can, in the worst case, lead to the extinction of these populations.

In an interview with the Tehran Times, Jamshid Parchizadeh, an expert of large carnivores, addresses several matters regarding this issue.

According to studies worldwide, one-fifth of the mammal species of the world are at risk of extinction in the wild due to anthropogenic disturbance

Parchizadeh says, “The same thing is happening in Iran.”

“The first reactions that many mammal species show to the human disturbance in the wild are to modify their habitat use and their spatio-temporal movements,” he explains.

For instance, based on the results of a survey, brown bears in Sweden and Norway are provided habitats where there are less human-caused disturbances, he says.

Though mammals change their habits, it is unfortunate why humans do not stop disturbing them, leading to their high mortality levels worldwide and severe extirpations that many of mammal species have faced, he laments.

Referring to many prominent studies, Parchizadeh lists anthropogenic disturbance in ecosystems, which leads to human-wildlife interaction, as a reason behind the animal populations’ disappearance in the wild that is a prelude to species extinction.

“The extent and consequences of anthropogenic disturbance on mammal populations are contentious issues in conservation,” he elucidates.

Separating these two [humans and mammals] in both spatial and temporal ways is “the key in the conservation and management”, he suggests.

He says some researchers claim that there is a straight proportion between human density (which leads to disturbance) and mammal extinctions.

Parchizadeh explains that these disturbances appear in the forms of poaching, over-hunting, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation. He refers to poaching and over-hunting as major causes of reduction and gradual extinction of many species of wild animals in Iran.

“One strategy to protect mammals from poachers is to watch the area strictly. Wardens are in charge of patrolling protected areas and relatively low number of them is an advantage for poachers to avoid detection and poach as many mammal species as they wish to,” he advises.

Therefore, he says hiring more wardens to patrol the areas to conserve the mammal populations is a necessity.

Iran’s nature has already suffered from the loss of two big cats – the Asiatic lion and the Caspian tiger.

Parchizadeh distressfully declares that prevention of other animal species going extinct should be a priority, since just a simple glance to Iran’s wildlife could give an insight to how many brown and Asiatic black bears, Persian leopards, Asiatic cheetahs, lynxes, caracals, Iranian wolves, red foxes, golden jackals, to mention a few, get killed every day by humans.

“With all this in mind, we have to avoid the human-wildlife interaction to conserve Iran’s mammals,” he suggests.