Iran-Iraq war saving Persian leopards


This video says about itself:

The Journey into wild Iran (English)

6 September 2013

Wildlife photographer returns to his native home Iran to document its little-known wilderness and extraordinary collection of plants and animals — from wild donkeys to cheetahs, leopards, striped hyenas, golden eagles and giant lizards

From the New Zealand Herald:

Endangered leopards thriving in minefields

5:00 AM Monday Dec 29, 2014

For humans it probably ranks as one of the world’s most dangerous nature reserves, but the mine-strewn border between Iran and Iraq has become an unlikely sanctuary for one of the world’s most endangered species of leopard.

The legacy of the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s has left up to 30 million landmines in the region, allowing the endangered Persian leopard to roam free from the threat of poachers. The munitions continue to kill and maim residents along the 1450km border, but in the mountainous Kurdistan region there are reports the Persian leopard, which rarely puts all its weight down on one paw, is too light to detonate the Soviet-era pressure-triggered landmines.

Conservation efforts in the region have floundered since the 1980s. But the unofficial leopard sanctuaries along the border now mean that conservation charities in the area are in the unusual position of planning to oppose new plans to remove landmines. “Environmentally speaking, mines are great because they keep people out,” Azzam Alwash, the head of Nature Iraq, told National Geographic.

Conservationists report that the danger of landmines is a far greater deterrent than law enforcement. Although the 80kg leopards are too light to set off anti-tank mines or less advanced anti-personnel mines, two of the animals died after setting off more advanced tripwire mines.

The animal is listed on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, with research showing that more than 70 were poisoned or illegally killed for their pelts from 2007 to 2011.

The Iran-Iraq border minefields are not the only conflict zone offering protection to wildlife. The demilitarised zone between North Korea and South Korea is also a haven for wildlife, while the Falkland Islands‘ penguin population has thrived in several large minefields laid during the brief 1982 Argentinian occupation.

Persian leopard

• Scientists now believe that fewer than 1000 wild Persian leopards remain.

• The natural habitat of the Persian leopard ranges from eastern Turkey to western Pakistan and includes vast tracts of the Caucasus and Russia.

• Most of the surviving leopards are to be found in Iran on the border with Iraq.

Leopards in Iraqi Kurdistan: here.

Cyprus reunification may harm unique wildlife thriving on border: here.

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