The head of the Hunting and Fishing branch of the Department of the Environment reports that in the past eight years, 166 Persian Leopards have been killed in various parts of the country.
Ali Teymouri told IRNA that most of these leopards have been killed in Fars, Golestan, Kerman, Zanjan, Ilam and Khorasan Province due to “road accidents or by poachers or stock herders”.
The Persian Leopard is one of the largest panthers in western Asia and is severely endangered.
Teymouri said his department will implement a special five-year protection plan in the coming year to try and save this species from extinction.
Iran is the chief habitat of the panther in the Middle East, and an adequate population of the species in Iran could also help protect the species in Caucasus, Eastern Turkey and Turkmenistan through migration.
A decline in panther prey due to hunting and the impact of urban development, mining and road building have segmented the panther’s habitat in Iran, causing a serious drop in the panther population.
In an attempt to raise awareness about the declining number of panthers in the country, the department has increased the fine for hunting a panther from five million to 80 million toumans.