Located in a pristine part of the Zagros range which crosses in a northwest-southeast direction the uncharted territories of Lorestan province in southwest of the country, Oshtorankouh is among rare habitats of the country where there is some solace for the lovers of the nature and wildlife pushed to the edges by the unregulated city and land use planning; here the Persian leopard or (Panthera pardus ciscaucasica or Panthera pardus saxicolor) roam its territory freely.
Yet the local official believes local communities should join efforts to protect the pristine mountainous terrain and its treasures. He is Mehrdad Fathi Beiranvand, the Head of provincial office of Department of Environment who spoke to Mehr News local correspondent; he has good news yet; “during 3 years of hard work by the rangers of the Department, the wildlife succeeded in multiplying their numbers through mating; rare species of large cat and other carnivorous fauna abounds in the region,” he says. “Yet human intervention should be at work to protect the Persian leopard, an invaluable large cat, from extinction; local people should contribute to protection of the cat and no less valuable the brown bear; public should help these species to create territories of their own; the public spirit should also have a strong belief that the wildlife is worthy of protection and the government should inculcate in them the belief,” Beiranvand emphasizes.
“Villagers should eschew from any reckless action when they detect a leopard or a bear approaching their homes; they are totally harmless to them and will leave the area; local people should inform the authorities; this is the best approach to the wildlife seen in the propinquity of the villages,” he called the public.
He also believes that the extension of villages into the territory of the bears and leopards created such problems of confrontation of the wildlife and human. In the past, myriads of reports have taken the headlines in local and national papers that local people trapped and slaughtered a leopard, a bear, or a hapless hyena which quite accidently turned out to be in the realm of the villagers or in the vicinity of towns.
Beiranvand however says the legal protection of the wildlife would discourage such unnecessary collective onslaught to the wildlife by the untrained rural people; “anyone who attacks or kills a member of species in the wild, will be sued and tried in the court; hunting such species will face 5 years behind the bars and a fine of $ 20, 780,” he tells Mehr News correspondent.
Head of Oshtorankouh Protected Wildlife Refuge Patrolling Unit Ahmad Goudarzi had told Mehr News earlier in November that the wildlife protection measures had been strongly enforced in the area during 3 past years; “rangers reportedly found remains and bones of the mountain goat in the vicinity of the natural Lake Gahar; this is indication that a natural predator, possibly Persian leopard is in the area; mountain goat, wild dog, and hug are in the daily menu of the leopard; the bones bore the traces of cat’s teeth,” he said.
Goudarzi rejoiced to provide figures of improved numbers of the mountain goat aged 9-13 years. “40 of them had been detected by rangers in the wildlife refuge; the punitive measures and fines had largely discouraged the hunters from entering into the area,” he added.
Dubbed ‘the Alps of Iran,’ Oshtorankouh is unique in hosting flora and fauna highly protected by the authorities. Hunting is banned and Department of Environment had been implementing projects to study the sheer diversity of plant species on the verge of extinction. Fauna also burgeoned and reached to a balanced level. “In 1960, a general ban was put on hunting which had covered Oshtorankouh range and Niga valley where the nature hosts 600 plant species and 274 animal species; 68 plant species are native to the mountains which sets the area in the top of areas rich in genetic reserves; we believe the area has the necessary requirements for being designated a national park,” Goudarzi concluded.
To this report, Mehr News Lorestan Service contributed.