A small pocket of conservation in Iran

By JW Dowey - 10 Oct 2013 4:9:0 GMT
A small pocket of conservation in Iran

The best is the biggest for some, and this guy can certainly effect the release of conservationism in Iran; Persian leopard image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The Persian leopard is the largest sub-species, known as Panthera pardus ciscaucasica, having to survive the chilling heights of the Caucasus, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and of course, Iran. The forests of the recently expanded Golestan National Park next to the Caspian Sea are its prime habitat. Poaching and deforestation, alongside developmental projects threaten its existence, according to Shirin, who works in a small wildlife organisation.

A small window into the recently-liberated society of Iran's new President Hassan Rouhani reveals a neglected conservation sector and burgeoning pollution in the large cities. The invertebrates and lesser vertebrates of the vast "Persian" countryside also need studying, as recent papers have revealed the diversity of species from mountain to shore. Narges Bajoghli has written a piece about the situation, entitled In Iran, Green Is Sometimes Safest.

The title emerges from the privations of the former regime where social activists hid under the environmental banner and avoided working on the civil problems they felt they should be active in. water shortage, pollution and cleaning up habitats were less frowned upon by government officials. News about conservation is only just beginning to reach the general population. Iranian state TV still prevents these environmentalists from showing the film material on for example, Asian black bear hunting.

On the agenda for Iran is most definitely the drying up of Lake Urumieh or the ancient sites of Isfahan, threatened by a subway system. The rest of the environmental news has sadly been censored, up until now. With the building of manufacturing plant throughout the nation, President Rafsanjani led a great reconstruction of the economy.

Unfortunately, little concern for environmental pollution led to atrocious conditions around some of these industrial sites, dams and mines. Paper making almost caused the loss of the leopard's precious forests. Environmental groups and even mountain climbing seem to have helped start the flow of environmental awareness.

Chalani, anther activist, puts it in a Persian nutshell, "Environmental issues are bigger than politics, that's why I continue to work in this field."