Your Impact on the leopards

 
A key poacher arrested in Tandoureh

A key poacher arrested in Tandoureh

Our camera trapping studies in Tandoureh enabled us to create a reliable map of the areas most frequented by leopards. We found one valley which was much used by some 10 leopards but rarely visited by rangers due to its remoteness and the difficulty of the trail that led to it. Fairly predictably, therefore, the valley became a hotspot for poachers. We decided to construct an access track into the valley, and four kilometers of mountain trail were built. Rangers can now get there in just half an hour compared to half a day before. On 13 October 2017, a quick response by the rangers and the greatly improved access to the valley enabled them to intercept a gang of poachers, composed of two individuals with a rifle, after they had shot two urial ewes. The poachers were arrested and are now in jail, subject to a penalty of US$2,500 for each ewe. One of them was the most outstanding poacher in Tandoureh, estimated to be shooting dozens of animals per year. Without such rapid access trails the best areas in the national parks can turn into a hell for wildlife but a heaven for poachers.
Iron horse for leopard shield

Iron horse for leopard shield

You may remember our first leopard shield, the ex-poacher who we recruited as a ranger to protect leopards and their prey in northern Iran. After six months of dedicated work by our novel ranger, we procured an “iron horse” for him – a powerful trail motorbike to enable him to better carry out anti-poaching patrolling in the area. He has been extremely successful for the past several months, deterring a few groups of poachers each month. The new bike enhances his social status and thus the support local people will give him, all of which improves his ability to patrol his area effectively. This is a remarkable step toward enhancing conservation in the area and will greatly aid our dedicated leopard shield.
Training tour for anti-poaching units

Training tour for anti-poaching units

Working as a ranger can be exciting, challenging, tough, but sometimes boring. Why? Spending three decades of life in a few valleys without receiving additional training, it is hard to find motivation and a positive drive, no matter how passionate and dedicated you are. Working 20 days each month to patrol vast mountains and plains leaves no time for rangers to get new insights and experiences. Often, rangers have never seen any other place than the area they patrol. We have been planning to arrange dedicated tours for rangers, supporting them to visit other reserves and to get to know colleagues working in other leopard areas. The first training tour was organized between 8 and 11 May 2017. Eight rangers from Dohezar-Sehezar visited Tandoureh National Park. They had the chance to meet Tandoureh’s rangers and to exchange their experience with poaching and countermeasures. In the meantime, visitor rangers learned more about eco-trips for local school kids within Tandoureh. The tour, which was supported by the Future4Leopards Foundation, was highly welcomed by rangers and the next tours are being planned already.
Detecting poachers in the lands of leopards

Detecting poachers in the lands of leopards

Poaching poses a serious threat to wildlife and is most of the time hard to witness. Poachers carefully monitor ranger activities, gathering information on patrol activities in different areas. This allows them to identify the most vulnerable locations and times for different species. In many cases, understaffed and under-equipped rangers have to make a stand against poachers who are far better equipped. Future4Leopards Foundation aims to assist rangers in enhancing their anti-poaching performance through provision of equipment, proper infrastructures and, more recently, hidden camera traps. We are now donating camera traps to rangers within our pilot sites, the goal being twofold: monitoring poacher activity and studying wildlife, including leopards. Our trial project to detect poachers using camera traps has proven to work well. So far, we have detected at least 4 different gangs of poachers in Tandoureh and Dohezar-Sehezar. This was thanks to camera traps we donated to these areas. Currently, we are working to train local rangers to improve the deployment and management of these anti-poaching surveillance camera traps. In combination with an increase in the amount of camera traps, we are convinced this technology will be of great help in the reduction of poaching.
Trails for rangers to stop poachers

Trails for rangers to stop poachers

Working in rugged mountains is challenging, especially if proper trails do not exist. Rangers do their best to patrol mountains, in order to deter poachers from entering and shooting animals. However, central parts of reserves have limited accessibility, and sometimes they become a refuge for poachers who stay there for several days of shooting. We explored this problem during our ongoing camera trapping investigations in Tandoureh National Park. Accordingly, the Future4Leopards Foundation made a decision, aiming to increase anti-poaching efficacy. In partnership with our local stakeholders, we developed a plan to define top priority trails to be constructed for better accessibility of rangers. Finally, two trails were identified to be suitable pathways, a total of 4 km long. However there was another challenge, we had to make sure that these trails are used only by rangers and not poachers. We designed trails to start from ranger posts, so no one could enter unattended. Local villagers were hired to build trails and now rangers have much better access into the National Park’s heart.
Fleece jacket for rangers

Fleece jacket for rangers

Mountains are extremely cold during winter, especially when you have to patrol occasionally on motorbikes. This is why we are providing local rangers with proper jumpers and fleece jackets, in support of their activities. Thanks to our long-standing friend in the Netherlands, Ali Zolfaghari, we were able to procure 17 Taiga fleece jackets for all rangers working in Bafq Protected Area, one of the Project’s key sites in central Iran. These programs support and motivate rangers, the frontiers in anti-poaching and has been a high priority for the Foundation, since inception. Currently, 13 rangers are working in Bafq, where is one of the last strongholds for Persian leopard across drylands of central Iran. In 2011, a total of 11 leopards (including 3 cubs) were identified using camera traps in the area, and with close partnership of our local partners, especially rangers and Bafq Volunteers Organization, we are currently working to update the leopard number using camera traps.
Motorbikes in leopard mountains

Motorbikes in leopard mountains

Rangers are at frontiers to stop poachers, but without proper equipment and continuous motifs, efficient anti-poaching cannot be expected. Therefore, together with our local partners, we have come up with a list of key priorities for rangers to provide. Mountain motorbikes are essential for better patrolling across tough landscapes, but most of them are working for a decade or so, with non-affordable costs for fixing and maintenance. Thanks to generous support from the Project’s donors, we have found a solution. In Tandoureh, we have facilitated comprehensive fixing for seven motorbikes. They have been sent to another town where it is a hub for such motorbikes and all engines have been replaced with original ones, sent from Tehran. In 2016, almost 1800 $ was donated from the Foundation to enhance motorbikes’’ performance. Therefore, Tandoureh’s rangers now have freshly fixed motorbikes with significantly higher performance.
Leopard Calendar on Rural Walls

Leopard Calendar on Rural Walls

In January 2016, the Future4Leopards Foundation decided to share our amazing collection of Persian leopard images with hundreds of rural communities around our Foundation sites. We posted request for financial support on our facebook. Surprising, within just two weeks, nearly 40 generous individual donors granted us their invaluable donations to raise an amount of 1640$, enabling us to develop and publish 2200 new Persian year wall calendar (commenced on 21 march 2016). Thanks to our Foundation partner, Huttell Company, all calendars were safely sent to our four Foundation sites. Hundreds of rural families received the calendar which is expected to increase their awarenss about the leopard life and survival.

Discover Persian Leopard

The leopard (Panthera pardus Linnaeus 1978) is one of the most widely distributed terrestrial species, with a global range of at least 80 countries across a wide variety of habitats, from rainforests to deserts. After the disappearance of the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) and Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata) prior to the 1970s, the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) remains as the largest cat in western Asia. Presently, it is considered “endangered” on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Arid environments of the Middle East are typically low-productive landscapes which harbour a number of threatened large carnivores, including the leopard. Leopards range across the mountains and foothills of west Asia from Turkmenistan and Afghanistan through Iran to the Caucasus, as well as the Arabian Peninsula. A substantial proportion of their distribution across this region is spatially non-contiguous, influenced by human disturbance and extremely low annual rainfall (<200 mm per annum). Low rainfall limits leopard density through constrained primary productivity.

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