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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Bush regime relic Bolton wants war on Iran


John Bolton cartoon

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

John Bolton’s call for war on Iran

27 March 2015

The New York Times Thursday published a prominent opinion piece entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

This video from the USA is about (failed) Unites States Republican presidential election candidate John McCain singing ‘Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran‘.

The author was John R. Bolton, a former State Department official and, for a brief period, US ambassador to the United Nations, under the administration of George W. Bush. He became an influential figure in the administration after serving as a lawyer in the Bush campaign’s successful operation to steal the 2000 election by stopping the vote count in Florida.

Bolton, it must be said, has been calling for an immediate military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities—by either Israel or the US, or both—for at least the last seven years. On each occasion, he has warned darkly that unless his prescription for intensive bombing followed by “regime change” was adopted within days, the world would face the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack.

Thursday’s column was no different. “President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe,” Bolton writes. He is referring to the attempt by Washington, together with the other member nations of the UN Security Council plus Germany, to negotiate restrictions on a nuclear program that Iran insists is strictly for civilian purposes in return for easing punishing economic sanctions.

“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident,” according to Bolton. Despite the lack of “palpable proof,” Bolton insists that Iran’s unwillingness to “negotiate away its nuclear program” and the inability of sanctions to “block its building of a broad and deep weapons infrastructure” constitute an “inescapable conclusion.”

Bolton, who has made an entire career of suppressing “inconvenient truths,” allows that he would prefer an all-out US bombing campaign, but would accept a US-backed attack by Israel.

“The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary,” he writes. He adds that this military onslaught must be combined with US efforts “aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

What is involved here is an open appeal for the launching of a war of criminal aggression and incitement of mass murder. The unbridled militarism expressed in Bolton’s column would not be out of place in the writings of Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the first to hang at Nuremberg after his conviction on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in organizing the Nazi regime’s wars of aggression.

The question arises, why has he been given a forum in the editorial pages of the New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record and erstwhile voice of American liberalism?

The obvious answer is that any differences the Times editorial board—or for that matter the Obama administration—have with Bolton over Iran are of an entirely tactical character. All of them stand by the principle that US imperialism has the unique right to carry out unprovoked “preemptive” war anywhere on the planet where it perceives a potential challenge to its interests.

Not so long ago, Bolton, who personifies this arrogant and criminal policy, and the Times were on the same page politically and on essentially the very same lines he presents in his latest column on Iran.

In 2002, Bolton was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and a point man in the Bush administration’s campaign to prepare a war of aggression against Iraq based upon the lies that Saddam Hussein was developing “weapons of mass destruction” and preparing to hand them over to Al Qaeda.

Bolton, described by one of his former colleagues at the State Department as “the quintessential kiss up, kick down kind of guy,” had been an advocate of aggression against Iraq at least since 1998, when he joined other right-wingers in signing an “Open letter to the president” demanding such a war.

In the run-up to war, he played a central role in manufacturing phony evidence of the existence of Iraqi WMD. This included the promotion of the crude forgeries indicating that Iraq was seeking to procure yellowcake (concentrated uranium) from Niger.

During this same period, the Times provided invaluable assistance to this propaganda campaign. Its senior correspondent Judith Miller was working in alliance with administration officials and right-wing think tanks to confirm and embellish upon the lies about WMD. Thomas Friedman, the paper’s chief foreign affairs columnist, was churning out column after column justifying what he readily acknowledged was a “war of choice” against Iraq, justifying it in the name of democracy, human rights and oil.

As the reputed newspaper “of record,” the Times set the tone for the rest of the corporate media, which together worked to overcome popular opposition to a war in the Middle East.

The results are well known. The war claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, devastated an entire society and threw the whole region into chaos. In the process, some 4,500 US troops lost their lives, tens of thousands more were maimed and wounded and some $2 trillion was expended. A dozen years later, the Obama administration has launched a new war in Iraq, supposedly to halt the advance of ISIS, a force that it effectively backed in the war for regime change in Syria.

No one has ever been held accountable for these war crimes; not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and others who conspired to drag the American people into a war of aggression based upon lies. And not the editors of the Times who produced the propaganda that facilitated their conspiracy.

On the other hand, those who oppose war—from Private Chelsea Manning, who exposed war crimes in Iraq, to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was sickened by the atrocities carried out against the people of Afghanistan—are submitted to a media lynching and then given the full measure of “military justice.”

In publishing Bolton’s column, the Times is making sure that it burns no bridges to the most right-wing and sociopathic layers of the American ruling establishment. While it may differ with them now over an imminent bombing of Iran, future US wars—including against Russia or China, where the propaganda mills of the Times are grinding once again—will undoubtedly bring them back into sync.

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.