Tandoureh National Park is located in the Kopet Dag, a range of mountains that straddles the frontier between the Khorasan region of northeastern Iran and Turkmenistan. The park, which lies about 20 km from the border and covers an area of 355 km2, has been protected since 1968. We launched our leopard conservation project, known as Future4Leopards Foundation, in Tandoureh in September 2013.
The Kopet Dag mountains host a high density of the endangered Persian leopard. However, the creature’s range is shrinking. For numerous reasons, such as an insufficient understanding of key ecological requirements, lack of appropriate expertise among local practitioners, and lack of engagement among stakeholders, the best ways to stop or even reverse this decline in the leopard’s range are not clear.
Thus, the aim of the Foundation team, working together with local communities and governmental stakeholders, is to create a conservation model for the Persian leopard in Tandoureh National Park, which is a main hub for this leopard across the Kopet Dag region. Parallel to a comprehensive scientific research program, the Foundation team is addressing health control in both domestic and wild animals, working to improve law enforcement and anti-poaching efforts, engaging local communities, and establishing national and international partnerships to improve the conservation status of the area. The outcomes of this work are applicable to other leopard reserves in the region and beyond.
Tandoureh National Park is characterized by mountains covered with wormwood Artemisia sp. and scattered juniper trees Juniperus sp. Elevations range from 1,000 to 2,600 m. Human settlements, mainly comprising sheep and goat herders, border the park. The main prey species for leopards are thought to include the urial sheep Ovis orientalis, the Persian ibex Capra aegagrus, and wild boar Sus scrofa.