United States wrestlers welcome in Iran after all


This video, from the Olympics in Brazil last year, is called J’den Cox (USA) wins the bronze medal in men’s freestyle wrestling at 86 kg.

In about ten days time, there will be World Cup wrestling in Iran. Then came United States President Donald Trump’s decree banning people from seven countries, including Iran.

As a retaliation, the Foreign Affairs Department of Iran banned the United States wrestling team from coming to the World Cup tournament.

However, then a federal judge (by the way, a Republican, a George W Bush nominee) decided that Trump’s travel ban was illegal. A federal appeals court confirmed that decision.

As a reaction, the Iranian Foreign Affairs Department has reversed its earlier decision. The United States wrestlers are welcome to participate after all.

Iranians stuck at Dutch airport by Trump


Anti-Trump demonstrators at Schiphol airport, ANP photo

This photo shows participants in the demonstration last Sunday at Schiphol airport in the Netherlands against the anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies of United States President Donald Trump. Among the slogans on the signs are (translated): ‘Wilders [Dutch Trump fan] extremist’; ‘Dump Trump. Stop sexual abuse‘ and ‘Trump psychopath’.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Six Iranians since Saturday stuck at Schiphol because of US entry ban

Today, 04:16

Six Iranians are staying since last weekend in a lounge area behind the passport control at Schiphol. They were flying KLM from Tehran to the United States when the entry ban by President Trump for people from seven Muslim countries came. When they wanted to change planes they were not allowed through at Schiphol. …

It involves two elderly couples who wanted to visit their children in the United States. “They had not seen their children for five years and spent a year getting visas.” The other two are young scientists who would do research at a university.

A doctor and an engineer.

Anti-Trump demonstrators at Schiphol, Sunday 30 January, photo Alexander Schippers, ANP

This is another photo of the 29 January demonstration at Schiphol. Slogans include: ‘No hatred against Jews then, no hatred against Muslims now‘.

NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR MICHAEL FLYNN PUTS IRAN ‘ON NOTICE’ FOLLOWING BALLISTIC MISSILE TEST The move could foreshadow “more aggressive economic and diplomatic measures against Iran.” [Reuters]

Birdlife in Iranian wetland, video


This video from Iran, with English subtitles, says about itself:

26 May 2015

This video was prepared by the Department of Environment in Iran in cooperation with JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) in 2012.

The Anzali Wetland Complex (approximately 19,000 ha) is located near the port city of Bandar Anzali in Gilan Province, North part of Iran along the Southern coast of the Caspian Sea. This site is one of the wetlands nearest to Ramsar city which is the origin of the Ramsar Convention. The wetland was designated as a Ramsar site at June 23, 1975.

A large, freshwater lagoon fed by several rivers and separated from the Caspian Sea by a dune system supports extensive reed bed and abundant submerged and floating vegetation. The permanent wetland is surrounded by seasonally flooded marshes, farmlands (mainly paddy fields) and fish ponds. The site is of international importance for breeding, staging and wintering waterbirds.

Endangered cheetahs in Iran


This video from Iran says about itself:

16 April 2014

The Asiatic cheetah or Iranian cheetah is a critically endangered species and an important part of Iran’s natural and cultural heritage.

Masood Hatami is a former hunter and nature lover who has dedicated his life to preserving nature and wildlife. Hatami was the man behind the first tangible action to protect the Asiatic cheetah in Iran.

From Panthera.org:

A Visit to Iran

George Schaller, PhD
Vice President

April 5, 2016

Iran, February 7-March 1, 2016

This February, I visited Iran to learn about the progress and problems in the conservation of the Asiatic cheetah. This distinct subspecies of cheetah is critically endangered—it once ranged from the Middle East to India and central Asia, but now only Iran’s small population of about 50 animals remains. With so few left, they are very difficult to spot—even for those who study them.

On our last day in the field, after about two weeks, we met a herder with his flock of sheep and goats near the border of the Miandasht reserve. He pointed across the plain to a brush covered knoll about 300 meters away. There three cheetahs, a female with two large cubs, ambled around, and sometimes just stood or reclined. Their pale color blended so well into the dun landscape that they seemed more a vision than reality. The cheetahs appeared to ignore us, and we did not approach them. A half an hour later we left, quietly taking with us a treasured memory. …

Cheetahs in Iran have been legally protected since 1959, but serious threats are threatening their survival:

A severe lack of prey due to poaching. Poachers enter reserves on motorcycles and pursue gazelles until they collapse, depriving cheetahs of an essential food source. Guard posts for many reserves are severely underfunded and therefore absent or inadequate. Protection here is an absolute priority.

Human development, particularly roads and highways. In just one 15 km stretch of highway on the northern edge of Touran, two female cheetahs and two cubs were struck by cars and killed in the last three years. At least 6 cheetahs have died on highways in Kalmand. Wildlife overpasses must be built at known cheetah crossings and low speed limits established and enforced.

Herders’ dogs. Many herders use dogs to guard their herds. These dogs—of which there are often three to five per herd—may be semi-feral, aggressive and free-roaming. In the past three years, these dogs have been involved in 5 cheetah killings in Touran, an area with 176 herder households using the reserve seasonally. Since families tend to protect herds themselves or hire people to do so, dogs should be completely banned from national park and wildlife refuges.

Saudi royal air force bombs Iranian embassy in Yemen


This 7 January 2016 video is called Saudi warplanes attack Iranian embassy in Yemen.

After the Saudi royal air force bombed blind people, factory workers, orphans, refugees, markets, Doctors Without Borders hospitals and beautiful ancient homes in Yemen … now they are apparently emulating their NATO allies, who in 1999 bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in Yugoslavia.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

Iran accuses Saudi Arabia of missile strike on its embassy in Yemen capital

Tehran says some embassy guards were injured in the alleged attack by warplanes

Adam Withnall

Iran has accused Saudi Arabia of launching an air strike on its embassy in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a.

According to Iranian state-run TV channels a number of embassy guards were injured in the alleged missile attack.

The IRIB news channel quoted an Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Hossein Jaber Ansari, as saying: “Saudi Arabia is responsible for the damage to the embassy building and the injury to some of its staff.” …

Earlier, Iran accused Saudi Arabia of using cluster bombs in a series of air strikes on Thursday which, it said, killed five people.

The claims come amid escalating tensions between the two Middle East powers, after the execution of a prominent Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia and the subsequent ransacking of the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

IRAN ACCUSES SAUDI ARABIA OF AIRSTRIKE ON EMBASSY “Iran accused Saudi Arabia on Thursday of an aerial attack on its embassy in Sana, the capital of Yemen, in a potential escalation of a sectarian and geopolitical conflict that has put the region on edge.” [NYT]

See also here.

Our memories tend to be so short-lived that we have forgotten entirely that Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran were once close geopolitical collaborators. It was not so long ago. We need not go back to the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 when Iran gave the new state crucial diplomatic recognition, leading to Saudi Arabia’s widespread acceptance in the community of sovereign states. The more interesting period is that of the 1960’s: here.

Good vulture news from Iran


This video says about itself:

21 April 2014

The Vulture Conservation Foundation has been at the forefront of the campaign to ban diclofenac in Europe. Ever since we were alerted for the legal marketing of this drug in Italy and Spain in late 2013, the VCF has researched the situation, established the current state of play, and promoted the building of a coalition of like-minded organisations to fight together this threat (Birdlife International, SEO/BirdLife, LIPU, the RSPB and the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group).

Diclofenac is extremely lethal to vultures, and has caused a 99% decline in several vulture species in the Indian subcontinent. This veterinary drug has been now banned from 4 countries in South Asia, only to reappear legally in Europe. This is probably the most significant threat to Europe’s vultures — whose populations have been steadily recovering following considerable investment by the EU, national governments and organisations like the VCF.

There are alternatives readily available to vet diclofenac, so we must learn from the Indian example, and STOP this drug before it is too late for Europe’s vultures. The VCF wants to see a total ban on diclofenac in the EU.

From BirdLife:

Veterinary diclofenac now completely banned in Iran

By Julien Jreissati, Mon, 19/10/2015 – 11:50

The Iranian Department of Environment has officially banned the export, import, production and veterinary use of diclofenac in the country.

“Iran’s decision to ban diclofenac is a major step to protect vultures in the African-Eurasian region. It is a clear demonstration of the country’s concern for and leadership on the conservation of migratory birds of prey. Other countries should follow Iran’s lead and that of the other countries such as India, Pakistan and Nepal that have also banned diclofenac”, said Lyle Glowka, Executive Coordinator, CMS Office – Abu Dhabi.

This significant decision was announced during the 2nd Meeting of Signatories to the Convention on Migratory Species Raptors MoU, which Iran signed in March 2015.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the last remaining major strongholds in the Middle East region for the rapidly declining and endangered Egyptian Vulture. It hosts around 60% of the migratory birds of prey species covered by the Raptors MoU.

The complete ban of diclofenac by the Iranian government was welcomed by the Signatories to the Raptors MoU and by BirdLife International. Its action will reinforce the ongoing international battle to prevent the extinction of vultures and other birds of prey in the region. This achievement was made possible by close cooperation between the Department of Environment, the Iran Veterinary Organization, and the Tarlan Ornithology Group.

Ibrahim Khader, Regional Director of the BirdLife Middle East Partnership secretariat expressed his satisfaction, “this very important achievement by the Islamic Republic of Iran, is an example to follow for governments in other vulture range states. This we hope will reduce the mortality rate of vultures and other large raptors in the region and will give a better chance for these key species to survive extinction and slowly thrive again.”

Diclofenac is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug whose veterinary use to treat livestock has been the main cause of the decline of several species of vultures around the world. Vultures are scavengers, often referred to as nature’s “garbage collector”, meaning that they feast on rotting carcasses keeping the environment free from disease. Unfortunately, vultures that feed on animal carcasses recently treated with diclofenac die from renal failure within few days.

Diclofenac has been a major cause of concern in many parts of the world. In South Asia, the populations of three species of vultures (White-rumped Vulture, Long-billed Vulture, and Slender-billed Vulture) have declined by more than 99% since the 1990’s due to the wide veterinary use of diclofenac. However, following a public campaign from the BirdLife Partnership, veterinary diclofenac was completely banned in India, Nepal and Pakistan in 2006. As a result, vulture populations have begun to stabilize although their levels remain low and vulnerable.

In 2013, despite the gruesome Asian experience veterinary diclofenac was made legal in several European countries, such as Spain that notably is home to 95% of the European vulture populations. Because of the threat posed the Convention on Migratory Species Secretariat and BirdLife International have called for the European Union to ban diclofenac.

The CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Birds of Prey in Africa and Eurasia (Raptors MOU) aims to promote internationally coordinated actions to achieve and maintain the favourable conservation status of migratory birds of prey throughout their range in the African-Eurasian region, and to reverse their decline when and where appropriate.

Algeria has the largest population of the Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), and the species is still well represented in several Algerian regions: here.

The Great Bustard: Past, Present and Future of a Globally Threatened Species


This video is about great bustards in Britain.

North African Birds

Alonso, J.C. 2014. The Great Bustard: Past, Present and Future of a Globally Threatened Species. Ornis Hungarica 22(2): 1–13.  DOI: 10.2478/orhu-2014-0014

Abstract & Full Text PDF (Open Access):

Great Bustards are still vulnerable to agricultural intensification, power line collision, and other human-induced landscape changes. Their world population is estimated to be between 44,000 and 57,000 individuals, showing a stable demographic trend at present in the Iberian peninsula, its main stronghold, but uncertain trends in Russia and China, and alarming declines in Iran and Morocco, where it will go extinct if urgent protection measures are not taken immediately. Our knowledge of the behaviour and ecology of this species has increased considerably over the last three decades, allowing us to control the major threats and secure its conservation in an appropriately managed cereal farmland. This species became ‘The Bird of the Year’ in Hungary in 2014.

Except from the…

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