Persian fallow deer breeding in favorable condition

August 10, 2020 - 17:43

TEHRAN – With a large population of 53, Persian fallow deer roam in the 55-hectare shelter of Dasht-e Naz, the most important breeding center for this species in the northern part of the country, so that the hope for returning them to natural habitat after several decades has increased.

The main habitat of fallow deer in the country includes western and southwestern areas, but the declining trend in the number of this valuable species in the 1330s (falling on 1951- 1961) led to measures to save them since the late decade.

Since the past 60 years, the species are inhabiting protected areas, and the most important center for the reproduction of fallow deer is the semi-natural breeding site of Dasht-e Naz in the city of Sari, where in the last two years the population of the species has grown significantly.

Persian fallow deer population increases by 60%

Persian fallow deer population in the Dasht-e Naz site has increased by about 60 percent in less than two years, which is gratifying, Hossein Ali Ebrahimi, head of the provincial department of environment told IRNA on Monday.

The fawns, born during the past two years, with the protective measures taken, live away from any danger, he stated.

Fortunately, our efforts over the past two years came effective, and the population of these beautiful species has increased as the death toll has decreased, he noted.

Kouros Rabiei, head of wildlife supervision department of Mazandaran DOE said that two years ago, 33 fallow deer were living in the site, which has now reached up to 53 with the implementation of protection programs to prevent the loss and prey.

Since then, the reproduction of deer was in a good condition, but usually, the fawns were preyed on carnivores such as wild cats and jackals, so that breeding had no effect on increasing the population of the species.

In semi-natural wildlife sanctuaries, the main goal is the reproduction of a species, and part of the wildlife cycle must inevitably be stopped, he highlighted, adding, the centers are selected for semi-captive breeding, with the aim of protecting and preventing the extinction of a specific species; therefore, we must eliminate the disruptive factors in the process of increasing the animal population.

According to statistics from the provincial DOE, 65 yellow deer have been sent from Dasht-e-Naz to other shelters in the country so far, but a significant 60 percent increase in the number of deer in Dasht-e-Naz in less than two years is a rare coincidence in fallow deer breeding.

According to Rabiee, it can be achieved through a series of protective and preventive measures.

“To save the deer, we had to cut off the carnivores’ access to the deer. The first way was to capture the animals alive to keep them away, which was done, and then the 55-hectare shelter was secured for keeping the animals.

The second step was the installation of cameras and lights, as well as the establishment of 24-hour monitoring stations, which caused hunting of fallow deer by wild animals to reach zero since 2019,” he explained.

Reintroduction of the species in Zagros

Currently, there are more than 200 Persian fallow deer in shelters throughout the country, the first priority of which is to save the species from extinction, which will be achieved by continuing this process, he highlighted.

The next goal is to release the species in their main habitats, i.e. the western and southwestern regions of Iran after their population reaches the desired level, he added.

Ultimately, the goal is the reintroduction to nature and habitat after a few decades, he said, noting, so much attention is paid to prevent them from being tamed; they are also kept wild at these sites and maintain their natural temperament.

He further expressed hope that the situation to be good enough to release a population of fallow deer into their natural habitats in the southwestern part of the country.

The Persian fallow deer (Dama dama mesopotamica) is a rare ruminant mammal belonging to the family Cervidae.

Persian fallow deer are physically larger than fallow deer, and their antlers are bigger and less palmate. They are nearly extinct today, inhabiting only a small habitat in Khuzestan, southern Iran, two rather small protected areas in Mazandaran, an island in Lake Urmia, and in some parts of Iraq.

They were formerly found from Mesopotamia and Egypt to the Cyrenaica and Cyprus. Their preferred habitat is open woodland.

The overall population of the Persian fallow deer lingered around 250 individuals in 2005 and registered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2015.

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