Traps picture 10 Persian leopards in southwestern Iran

August 27, 2019

TEHRAN – Camera traps have succeeded in taking photos of 10 Persian leopards inhabiting in Dena National Park, located in southwestern Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province, the provincial department of environment chief, has announced.

Camera traps are remotely activated and equipped with motion sensors or infrared sensors, which capture wild animals on film.

“Since less than a year, cameras have been installed in protected areas of the province as well as Dena National Park, which captured photos of the Persian leopards,” Mehr quoted Mohsen Jafarinejad Bastami as saying on Sunday.

The photos show a male, a female and an immature leopard, while more time and expertise is required to investigate other recorded images, he noted.

Since past years, many Persian leopards have been photographed in this valuable biosphere, but spotting 10 leopards at the same time, whose images also testify to their health and fitness, is a unique and rare event in the area, he highlighted.

As an umbrella species, the leopard plays an important role in the population dynamics of other species, especially their prey, he concluded.

In conservation biology, Umbrella species are species selected for making conservation-related decisions, typically because protecting these species indirectly protects the many other species that make up the ecological community of its habitat, such as Persian leopard.

Species conservation can be subjective because it is hard to determine the status of many species. With millions of species of concern, the identification of selected keystone species, flagship species or umbrella species makes conservation decisions easier.

The Persian leopard is listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List; the population is estimated at fewer than 871–1,290 mature individuals and considered declining.

According to the Department of Environment, 156 leopards have been killed in Iran from 2005 to 2014, nearly 20 leopards a year. Studies indicate that currently there are less than 500 leopards nationwide.

Persian leopards are mainly threatened by poaching, depletion of their prey base due to poaching, human disturbances, habitat loss due to deforestation, fire, agricultural expansion, overgrazing, and infrastructure development. 

In Iran, primary threats are habitat disturbances followed by illegal hunting and excess of livestock in the leopard habitats. The leopards’ chances for survival outside protected areas appear very slim.

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