Heydari Wildlife Refuge is an important habitat for Urial wild sheep in northeastern Iran, near the city of Neyshabour. However, more than a decade has passed since the last evidence of a leopard was found there. That was in 2005, when a leopard was filmed by a group of foreign trophy hunters, but it has never been filmed since. In 2013 we conducted a quick survey in the area, within promising habitats where leopards could be expected. The prey population was depleted and poaching seemed to be a major issue. Not surprisingly, no signs of leopards were detected.
Then, luckily, in 2017 a leopard was reported again in Heydari, and this was supplemented by a picture taken by camera traps set by rangers. The image shows only part of the animal’s body and does not allow a better assessment of the individual’s characteristics, such as age or gender. Nevertheless, it definitely gives hope that bolstering conservation efforts in the area may be able to restore populations of both prey and leopard.