When two years ago we began to protect a forest in northern Iran, we were curious whether there is any big mammal that has survived the decades of heavy poaching to which the forest has been subject. A quick inventory survey using camera traps dispersed across the area showed that some prey do remain, from roe deer to wild pig, spiced with occasional maral red deer, the largest wild ungulate in the Middle East.
Although this first snapshot was promising, our passion for the species which predates on these ungulates, the Persian leopard, spurred us on to more and harder work. The “leopard shield” we hired, with the generous support of donations from our supporters, switched from his poaching career to a new life protecting wildlife as a ranger.
Finally, thanks to our investment in effective anti-poaching efforts, as well as local knowledge we could draw on about the wildlife species present, leopards were occasionally detected in the area – more precisely an adult male and an adult female. Ultimately, to our surprise, the camera traps we deployed to detect poachers snapped not just a solitary individual, but a family group of three leopards. The family, composed of a leopard mom accompanied by at least two healthy looking cubs, was a wonderful bonus after two years of hard work and conservation efforts in the tough mountains of northern Iran. We would like to express our appreciation for your generous support which enabled us to take this step forward, particularly Rewilding Foudation and Stichting SPOTS.