Brown Bear conservation in Northern Iran
By Bagher Nezami and Mohammad S. Farhadinia
IUCN Action Plan
According to the IUCN Bear Action Plan, the brown bear is considered as a "Low Risk" species in the Red List, and the Iranian population is classified as "Small?" despite a lack of data on the status of the species within Iran. The priority action stated by the ICN for Brown bears is an investigation of their status in the Middle East. At the moment, the species is "Protected" by law in Iran and, because of lack of information; it has high priority for research within Iranian wildlife agencies.
Brown Bears in Iran
The brown bear is distributed across the north and west of Iran, mainly within The Alborz and Zagors Mountains. The Alborz Mountains holds a larger population of bears with an estimated population of 500-1000 bears. The present population is decreasing in Iran, mostly due to numerous conflicts between bears and the human population across its range. It is thought that several dozen bears are killed by poachers every year to stop these conflicts, and also by poachers trading in bear products.
|The Alborz Mountains holds a larger population |
of bears with an estimated population of
Project Brown Bear in Northern Iran
Western Mazandaran Province, particularly near city of Chalous, where the study area is located in the Alborz range, is widely recognized in publications as a ‘hotspot' of bear presence. Meanwhile, current data about ecological aspects of the species across Alborz range is lacking, including within our study area. Furthermore, the plight of the brown bear has never been considered as requiring a management plan for protection of this area.
Brown Bear Project
Launched in September 2005, the Brown Bear Project in northern Iran is the first research effort in Iran of one of the most viable bear populations, studying the bears in the high altitude forests of Central Alborz Protected Area, within the Golestanak Reserve. It is funded by the Iranian Department of Environment and Dutch Zoo Conservation Fund (DZCF), and has also been a template for similar investigations of the Brown bears, the largest carnivore in Iran
The brown bear project aims at to collect a sufficient amount of data about bear ecology and population status through:
• Surveying throughout the bear's range to identify its distribution;
• Determining the brown bear's seasonal die t;
• Surveying the brown bear's range and dispersal patterns in the main reserves, to help determine the reserves' boundaries;
• Investigating the brown bear's population parameters which enable the areas' authorities to monitor the population;
• Evaluation of local people's attitude toward the brown bear as the largest carnivore in the reserves;
• Production of a documentary film about the brown bear for the national Television.
The Brown Bear Project was launched in an attempt to increase the knowledge base about Iran's largest carnivore within the Central Alborz Protected Area (CAPA). Monitoring the demographics of brown bear populations has been accomplished based on an annual count of females bears with cubs of-the-year (COYs), and is central to evaluating the conservation measures. Monitoring families provides information about demography and ecology and the factors that threaten them and contributes to their surveillance and protection.
Other than the importance of conserving the bear in its own right, the Iranian bears occur in habitats that are important for other threatened species, which are relatively abundant in the area, such as Persian leopard, Maral red deer, Roe deer and Eurasian lynx. So as the bear is considered an umbrella species, it can help guide a more effective conservation management strategy for the vanishing forest habitats of Iran.
Continuous monitoring is a major part of this project, particularly based on certain bear families. Meanwhile, the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) plans to start radio-telemetry tracking program for which additional funds are being sought. Additionally educational programs have been started in cooperation with local stakeholders.
Go to the website of the Iranian Cheetah Society