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Do recent leopard Panthera pardus records from northern Iraq and south-eastern Turkey reveal an unknown population nucleus in the region?

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Abstract

The status of leopard in Iraq and south-eastern Turkey has been unclear for decades. Because of recent and on-going armed conflicts in important parts of the potential leopard distribution range, no studies were done that could have proved the presence of the species. We report here 10 confirmed and 2 unconfirmed leopard records between 2001 and 2014 from northern Iraq and south-eastern Turkey. All records for which the gender of the animal was identified were of males, which could be hypothesized as long-range dispersers from Iran. However, the long distances between our records and the nearest known breeding populations in Iran suggests that a so far unnoticed reproducing population nuclei may occur along the north-western part of the Zagros Mountains in western Iran, northern Iraq and south-eastern Turkey.

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... Pars is generally named as Anatolian pars in Turkey and it is attributed to the subspecies Panthera pardus tulliana [6]. Records with and without sample about pars (Panthera pardus) which is known to become extinct in Turkey have been given by various researchers from different regions of Anatolia [7,8,9,10,11,12,13]. The aim of the present study is to determine the presence of Panthera pardus in Bitlis Province. ...
... Records with and without sample about pars (Panthera pardus) which is known to become extinct in Turkey have been given by various researchers from different regions of Anatolia (Table 1). However, various findings have been found recently about the presence of this species in southeastern region of Turkey [13]. By means of the present study, record of pars given from Bitlis Province located in Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey will provide significant data indicating that presence of the species has been continuing in Anatolia. ...
... Gavashelishvili and Lukarevskiy [24] indicated that Zagros Mountains provided a corridor of habitat convenient for pars. Avgan et al. [13] stated that Zagros Mountains stretching within borders of Northern Iraq and Southeastern Turkey had a wide potential for habitat of pars. Records of pars which have been recently provided from especially eastern and southeastern Anatolia in Turkey support hypotheses suggested for Zagros Mountains progressing as the continuation of Southeastern Taurus. ...
... For about three decades, hard evidence for the presence of leopards in Turkey did not exist. Avgan et al. (2016) reported an individual killed at Mt. Gabar in Şırnak province in 2010 and another near Çınar in Diyarbakır province in 2013, together with an unconfirmed record from Bitlis province in 2001 (see also Toyran, 2018). These records from south-eastern Turkey, together with other records in northern Iraq (Avgan et al., 2016) showed that the leopard still existed in the Turkish-Iraqi border area. ...
... Avgan et al. (2016) reported an individual killed at Mt. Gabar in Şırnak province in 2010 and another near Çınar in Diyarbakır province in 2013, together with an unconfirmed record from Bitlis province in 2001 (see also Toyran, 2018). These records from south-eastern Turkey, together with other records in northern Iraq (Avgan et al., 2016) showed that the leopard still existed in the Turkish-Iraqi border area. We carried ...
... In the 21 st century, a leopard shot in Diyarbakır province in 2013 (Avgan et al., 2016) received attention in the national press, and a common rumor was circulating in social media that some dead leopards and their skin photographs were taken in the south-east and north-east parts of Turkey. The reliability and locations of most of them could not be explicitly determined. ...
Article
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The Leopard, Panthera pardus, was thought to be extinct or on the verge of extinction in Turkey towards the end of the 20th century. However, as leopards killed by local people were reported from the Turkish-Iraqi border area in the last two decades, we carried out field surveys in these regions in order to find out whether the species has survived. We set camera traps at more than 150 locations in Mardin, Siirt and Şırnak provinces in south-eastern Turkey in 2018 and 2019 and succeeded in obtaining altogether three pictures of leopards, probably of the same individual. The photographs, taken in July and December 2018, and in November 2019, are from two different sites on the northern slopes of Mount Cudi. Together with previous records, these observations indicate that a small population of the leopard has survived in the Turkish-Iraqi border area. Cudi Mountain may serve as a corridor for leopards moving between Turkey, Iraq and Iran. Our records comprise the first photographic evidence of living leopards in Turkey in the wild.
... Regardless, the status of Persian leopard in the mountains of northern Iraq was enigmatic and no sightings of live leopards have been made until a male leopard was captured by a camera trap in Qara Dahg area in Sulymaniyah Province in October 2011 (Raza et al., 2012). In 2001-2014, 10 confirmed records of Persian leopard from northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey were investigated and hypothesized as a long dispersal of males from the Iranian populations (Avgan et al., 2016). It is also suggested that unnoticed isolated breeding populations may occur along the northwestern part of Zagros Mountains in northern Iraq and Western Iran (Avgan et al., 2016;Spassov et al., 2016). ...
... In 2001-2014, 10 confirmed records of Persian leopard from northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey were investigated and hypothesized as a long dispersal of males from the Iranian populations (Avgan et al., 2016). It is also suggested that unnoticed isolated breeding populations may occur along the northwestern part of Zagros Mountains in northern Iraq and Western Iran (Avgan et al., 2016;Spassov et al., 2016). However, recent surveys reported the occurrence of Persian leopard in Barzan Area and Gali Balnda, and in Assos and Qara Dagh mountains (Nature Iraq, 2017).Furthermore, our interviews with local peoples near Bamo Mountain have reliably indicated that Persian leopards were seen very often and had been killed several times by local poachers, but no photographic evidences were obtained. ...
Article
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Mammals are under threat worldwide due to deforestation, hunting, and other human activities. In Iraq, a total of 93 species of wild mammals have been recorded including species with global conservation concern. Bamo Mountain is situated within the Zagros Mountains in northern Iraq which is a suitable habitat for wild mammals. Due to scarcity of the field survey efforts and cryptic behavior, monitoring of the wild mammals fauna in Zagros Mountain seems challenging. Therefore, we used a camera trap which seems to be an ideal way to determine species diversity of wild mammals in Bamo Mountain. Moreover, interviews with local villagers were performed. The mammalian diversity of Bamo Mountain is not fully explored but seemed threatened by local extinction due to poaching and wildlife trafficking, minefields, and annual fires. In this study, a total of eight species of wild mammals were recorded for the first time in Bamo Mountain using camera trap method including the Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor Pocock, 1927, and the wild goat Capra aegagrus Erxleben, 1777, flagship and key species of conservation concern. As far as it is concerned, the major threats on the wild mammals were discussed and some important points were highlighted towards the establishment of the protected area in Bamo Mountain.
... Among these species, fallow deer (D. dama), hyena (Hyaena hyaena), and leopard (P. pardus) are reported to be on the verge of extinction (Baskaya and Bilgili 2004;Akay et al. 2011;Avgan et al. 2016;Ünal and Çulhacı 2018;Toyran 2018). ...
Article
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Düzlerçamı Wildlife Reserve Area (WRA) is the last natural habitat of fallow deer (Dama dama) in the world. Fallow deer is native to Turkey, however, its geographical range is currently confined to Düzlerçamı WRA, Antalya. To date, a detailed habitat investigation of fallow deer distribution has not been conducted. This study is vital for the last surviving populations of fallow deer in Turkey. Therefore, we studied the habitat suitability and utilization of fallow deer in the Düzlerçamı WRA. Vegetation and wildlife inventory was surveyed across a total of 304 sample areas between 2015 and 2017. Plant species were recorded according to the Braun-Blanquet method and wildlife surveys were based on footprints, feces, and other signs of fallow deer. Classification and regression tree techniques, as well as MAXENT, were used to model vegetation and fallow deer habitat. Topographic position index, terrain ruggedness index, roughness index, elevation, and bedrock formation were also calculated and included in the models. Based on our results, we drafted a habitat protection map for fallow deer. To ensure sustainability of habitats where populations of fallow deer are found in Turkey, we developed recommendations such as closuring human access of the 1st-degree Protection Area and reintroduction of the species to other potential habitats.
... Although the Persian leopard has been categorized as an endangered (EN) species in the IUCN Red List (Khorozyan, 2016), more recently the assessment does not appear any longer on the IUCN Red List due to data contradictory and lack of up-to-date information (Stein et al., 2020). The Zagros Mountains forming from the mountain ranges in Iran to the northeast of Iraq (Kurdistan region) has been reported as one of the cross-border habitats of the Persian leopard (Avgan et al., 2016;Breitenmoser et al., 2010), but our knowledge about the Persian leopard habitat suitability and its existing core habitats in the region is so little. ...
Article
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Habitat fragmentation has major negative impacts on wildlife populations, and the connectivity could reduce these negative impacts. This study was conducted to assess habitat suitability and structural connectivity of the Persian leopard along the Iran–Iraq border (i.e., the Zagros Mountains) and compare the situation of identified core habitats and connectivity with existing conservation areas (CAs). An ensemble modeling approach resulting from five models was used to predict habitat suitability. To identify core habitats and corridors along the Iran–Iraq border, factorial least-cost path analyses were applied. The results revealed that topographic roughness, distance to CAs, annual precipitation, vegetation/cropland density, and distance to rivers were the most influential variables for predicting the occurrence of the Persian leopard in the study area. By an estimated dispersal distance of 82 km (suggested by previous studies), three core habitats were identified (two cores in Iran and one core in Iraq). The largest cores were located in the south and the center of the study area, which had the highest connectivity priorities. The connectivity from these cores was maintained to the core within the Iraqi side. Only about one-fifth of detected core habitats and relative corridors were protected by CAs in the study area. Detected core habitats and connectivity areas in this study could be an appropriate road map to accomplish the CAs network along the Iran–Iraq border regarding Persian leopard conservation. Establishing transboundary CAs, particularly in the core habitat located in the center of the study area, is strongly recommended to conserve existing large carnivores, including the Persian leopard.
... Leopards are reported to survive in forests where natural prey has been displaced by livestock (Kabir et al. 2014, Shehzad et al. 2015 and in close proximity to urban landscapes (Bhatia et al. 2013, Atherya et al. 2015, Kumbhojkar et al. 2020. Despite severe anthropogenic pressures, leopards also survive in the parks of Armenia and Turkey (Avgan et al. 2016, Jacobson et al. 2016. In contrast, it is not known exactly why or how Bangladesh has lost its viable leopard population or whether the species is truly lost. ...
Article
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The Indian leopard Panthera pardus fusca is Critically Endangered in Bangladesh. Presence of the country’s second largest cat is based on speculations and its population is often considered to be unviable. No specific studies on Bangladesh’s leopard population have been conducted. Thus, scant empirical data for this range country exists. Here, we provide a review on leopard occurrences in the country between 2008 and 2020. We searched media reports and peer-reviewed publications, and compiled verifiable and geo-spatially extrapolatable records. Over the past 13 years, we documented 21 confirmed incidents; nine of which were outcomes of human-leopard conflicts. In north-western Bangladesh, seven leopards strayed from North Bengal, India, a conflict hotspot for the species, into the country. Northern and north-eastern Bangladesh had one incident each. These regions have forests bordering the Indian States of Meghalaya and Tripura, which are considered as possible extant leopard range. We noted five seizure records describing confiscation of three skins and four live specimens. We found seven encounters in the wild, all from south-eastern Bangladesh: five from the Chattogram Hill Tracts CHT and two from Cox’s Bazar-Teknaf Peninsula. We also noted rapid degradation in the peninsular forests due to the Rohingya refugee crisis. The CHT forests, considered as extant range and from where the only leopard camera trap image in the country exists, are the best hope for the leopards in Bangladesh. Comprehensive surveys are recommended for north-eastern transborder forests, extensions of the Tripura Hills, and the CHT region in order to better understand and facilitate leopard conservation in the country. We also suggest a systematic approach to protect wildlife beyond protected areas considering transient leopard conflicts in the north-western region.
... Although its typical distribution area is defined as Northern Europe, Russia (Siberia), and Central Asia, fragmented populations were also reported from Western Asia, as well as Central and Western Europe (reintroduced in much of Central and Western Europe) (IUCN 2007;Breitenmoser et al. 2015). It is the third largest terrestrial carnivore species in Europe after the brown bear (Ursus arctos Linnaeus, 1758) and the wolf (Canis lupus Linnaeus, 1758) (Breitenmoser et al. 2000), and the fourth in Turkey, with the addition of the leopard (Panthera pardus Linnaeus, 1758) as the third (records of dead P. pardus individuals were reported in 2001, 2010, and 2013 from Bitlis, Şırnak, and Diyarbakır provinces, respectively; Avgan et al. 2016). Although the lynx is categorized under least concern (LC) by the IUCN (Breitenmoser et al. 2015), some populations are dwindling, losing genetic diversity, and on the verge of extinction (Kaczensky et al. 2012). ...
Article
In this study, we aimed to determine the daily activity patterns and seasonal activity variations of the Eurasian lynx in different habitats (forests and open lands) in a geographical region where there are relatively few data on its ecological characteristics. Survey effort totaled 10 102 camera trap days, with 24 camera trap stations covering an area of approximately 650 km2. Our results showed no significant differences in the habitat preference of the lynx throughout the entire study area or between seasons. The crepuscular and nocturnal activity preferences of the lynx were similar to those of the wolf, red fox, and the European hare. The lynx's daily activity pattern peaked during 20:00–22:00 and 04:00–06:00 hours, and did not show significant variation between seasons. Kernel density estimation was used in order to reveal the temporal overlap of other carnivore and herbivore species with the lynx. The highest temporal overlap (coefficient of overlapping: 0.90) was seen with the European hare. Our findings also indicated higher temporal overlaps with the wolf, red fox, wild boar, and brown bear, and lower overlaps with the red deer, Southwest Asian badger, and Martes spp., which improved understanding of their interactions and co-existence with the lynx.
... When the snow falls, the leopard migrates south and east to the lowlands following the wild boar and probably passes to Iran (MAhArrAMovA et al. 2018), which is the main reservoir of this local population. This is supported by the data on individual migration and dispersal opportunities in this carnivore (AvGAn et al. 2016). ...
Article
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New data from camera traps in the Talysh Mountains (southern Azerbaijan) show that the Hirkan Forest is one of the last permanent habitats of the Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) in Transcaucasia. It hosts about 3-5 adult individuals and the species has always existed there. This is probably the most stable micropopulation in the country. Preservation of the species in the area will be beneficial for the conservation of the leopard not only in Azerbaijan but also in the Caucasus in general.
... areas of this region have reported densities at the lowest known extreme for the species, fewer than 0.5 individuals/100 km 2 20 . Importantly, the few individuals observed in protected areas frequently show no evidence of breeding [20][21][22][23] . Low density and apparent lack of breeding are clearly grounds for conservation concern. ...
Article
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The population densities of leopards vary widely across their global range, influenced by prey availability, intraguild competition and human persecution. In Asia, particularly the Middle East and the Caucasus, they generally occur at the lower extreme of densities recorded for the species. Reliable estimates of population density are important for understanding their ecology and planning their conservation. We used a photographic spatial capture-recapture (SCR) methodology incorporating animal movement to estimate density for the endangered Persian leopard Panthera pardus saxicolor in three montane national parks, northeastern Iran. We combined encounter history data arising from images of bilaterally asymmetrical left- and right-sided pelage patterns using a Bayesian spatial partial identity model accommodating multiple “non-invasive” marks. We also investigated the effect of camera trap placement on detection probability. Surprisingly, considering the subspecies’ reported low abundance and density based on previous studies, we found relatively high population densities in the three national parks, varying between 3.10 ± SD 1.84 and 8.86 ± SD 3.60 individuals/100 km2. The number of leopards detected in Tandoureh National Park (30 individuals) was larger than estimated during comparable surveys at any other site in Iran, or indeed globally. Capture and recapture probabilities were higher for camera traps placed near water resources compared with those placed on trails. Our results show the benefits of protecting even relatively small mountainous areas, which accommodated a high density of leopards and provided a refugia in a landscape with substantial human activity.
... The border between Iraq and Iran is not in dispute (at least, not at this writing), but substantial stretches have remained undeveloped and relatively unexploited due to the dangers of old minefields. This may be a contributing factor to the persistence of native wild goat and sheep, and even Persian leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana) in the border region (Schwartzstein 2014;Avgan et al. 2016). There have been efforts to create biodiversity parks along the border (Gies 2018), but current tensions between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran have led the Iraqi wildlife biologists to shift their conservation efforts away from the border for now. ...
Chapter
Collateral values are the improvements and/or conservation of the natural capital of landscapes upon which societies conduct war and similar conflicts. This book presents case studies of actual or potential collateral values. The study of collateral values thus falls within the new field of Warfare Ecology, as introduced by Machlis and Hanson (Bioscience 58(8):729–736, 2008). Machlis and Hanson propose a “taxonomy” of warfare ecology effects, based on whether the activities that cause the effect are part of the preparations for war, the actual waging of war, or the post-conflict recoveries. In this chapter, we analyze each of the case studies presented in this book in light of the Machlis-Hanson taxonomy, noting that the landscape under study may be defined as a unit during one phase, and acquire its collateral values in a later phase. The evolution of warfare suggests that current and future wars are unlikely to define battlefields suitable for the development of collateral values. However, older battlefields with significant collateral values may be more likely to resist pressures for economic development, due to the historical and memorial significance of those landscapes. In contrast, tensions along borders and/or border disputes may continue to define new landscapes that can acquire collateral values. As protected areas of all types are under great pressure, we hope the recognition of collateral values may help conserve them.
... Two of the identified carnivore species, the lion (Panthera leo) and the leopard (Panthera pardus), have become extinct in Turkey. However, there are crucial traces in the region (Lake Van Basin) regarding the existence of leopard (Avgan et al. 2016). Spassov et al. (2016) stated in a study compiling data on leopard's presence in Turkey that the geographical range of this species overlapped a small border area in the south-east of Turkey. ...
... The positive trend in the "triangle" and in Hirkan NP contrasts with the risk of increas� ing fragmentation of the range of Panthera pardus tulliana (we use P. p. tulliana for the south�western Asiatic leopard su�species ("Persian leopard"), including saxicolor and ciscaucasica, following Kitchener et al. 2017), resulting in a growing isolation of the Caucasus ecoregion. The corridor to the Za� gros Mountain population has �een �roken some time ago (Avgan et al. 2016, Sanei et al. 2016, Spassov et al. 2016, and the connectivity �etween the Talysh Mountains and the well�studied leopard population in the eastern Al�orz Range (including Goles� tan NP) in Iran seems to �e threatened. A survey �y Moqanaki et al. (2013) has pro� vided no evidence for leopard presence in Lisar and Agh Dagh protected areas south of the Talysh Mountains in the western Al� �orz Range. ...
Article
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Recent discovery of leopard reproduction in two sites at the south-western rim of the Lesser Caucasus and the Talysh Mountains give hope for a recovery of this regionally Critically Endangered large cat. Increasing fragmentation of the entire range of the Persian leopard Panthera pardus tulliana may however hamper the natural recolonisation of the Caucasus. The revision and update of the Strategy for the Conservation of the Leopard in the Caucasus Ecoregion, scheduled for April 2017, should hence emphasize the importance of the transboundary connectivity of suitable habitat and healthy prey populations across the Caucasus and with neighboring mountain ranges.
... According to Marmara Forest Service data, a leopard was photographed also to the west of this region, near the Kachkar National Park, north�easternTurkey, in 2002 (Birch 2006). Fig. 1) The leopard is still found along the south� eastern �order of the country as confirmed �y three recent records: species is extinct in Syria (Khozoryan 2008), and the presence of a leopard close to Lake Van, and near Bitlis and Solmaz could �e explained �y a micro�population found in the south�east of the country, most likely associated with the north�western Iranian population of the su�species P. p. ciscaucasica (Caucasian or Persian leopard), which inha�its the �order areas �etween Iraq, Iran and Turkey (Avgan et al. 2016; Fig. 1). The killed leopards have a relatively deep and rich tawny coat coloration of the �ack (Fig. 4). ...
Article
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This review aims to present data on the existence of the last leopards Panthera pardus in Turkey. They exist in a small border region in the south-east of the country. It is possible that some individuals penetrate or survived also in the north-easternmost mountainous region of Anatolia. The species probably went extinct recently in the Taurus Mts in the south-west Turkey. The analysis shows that the data mentioned for the eastern Karadeniz Mts are not reliable. The leopard in Turkey might have disappeared before it was possible to investigate and clarify its taxonomy and ecology. Awareness activities of local volunteers should urgently receive the support of conservation organisations for saving the last leopards in Turkey.
Article
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Large carnivores have extensive spatial requirements, which often result in ranges that span geopolitical borders. Consequently, management of transboundary populations is subject to different political jurisdictions, often with high heterogeneity in conservation challenges. In continental Asia, there are four endangered leopard subspecies with transboundary populations spanning 23 countries: the Persian, Indochinese, Arabian, and Amur leopards. We reviewed the status of these subspecies and examined their conservation challenges and opportunities. Amur and Indochinese leopards had the majority (58-100%) of their remaining range in borderlands, whereas Persian and Arabian leopards had a quarter (23-26%) of their remaining ranges in borderlands. Overall, in 18 of 23 countries the majority of the remaining leopard range was in borderlands, thus in most countries their conservation is dependent on transboundary collaborations. However, we found only two transboundary initiatives for Asian leopards. Overall, we highlighted three key transboundary landscapes in regions which are of high importance for the survival of these subspecies. Recent listing of leopard in the Bonn Convention is an encouraging step forward, but more international collaboration is needed to save these subspecies. Our paper provides a spatial framework on which range countries and international agencies can establish transboundary cooperation for conserving endangered leopards in Asia.
Article
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The leopard Panthera pardus is a Critically Endangered flagship species of the Caucasus. In 2007, conservation experts and institutions from all six Caucasian countries joined to develop a Strategy for the Conservation of the Leopard in the Caucasus Ecoregion, based on a review of the status of the leopard population and its prey (Cat News Special Issue 2, 2007). Now, three years later, the IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, WWF and NACRES organised a discussion group at the annual conference of the International Bear Association IBA in Tbilisi, Georgia. The meeting was part of the symposium “Large Carnivores in the Caucasus”, organised and supported by the Secretariat of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). The leopard is listed as a strictly protected species in Appendix II of the Bern Convention. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the status of the leopard, the implementation of the Strategy and next steps with wildlife conservationists from the Caucasian countries.
Article
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Persian leopards Panthera pardus saxicolor in the Caucasus have suffered a major decline in numbers and extent of occurrence, and are now restricted to a few populations in north-western Iran. This perception bases on sporadic field observations and a sign survey conducted in 2004. To establish an updated basis for the current status of Iranian Caucasus leopard, we carried out field surveys in June-October 2012 using non-invasive genetic sampling of faeces combined with searches for signs and non-structured interviews with key local informants at five priority reserves in north-western Iran. Within approximately 285 km of trails evaluated in 33 survey days (435 man-hours) we found only six potential leopard scats, three of which were of sufficient quality for mitochondrial DNA analysis but none confirmed as originating from leopard. We recorded no fresh leopard signs and interviews suggested very little reliable proof for the species’ presence in all but Kiamaky Wildlife Refuge and Agh Dagh Protected Area. We caution that leopards in the Iranian Caucasus are in unfavourable status, and that prompt conservation actions are needed. It is unlikely that the assumed source population of leopards in north-western Iran is presently able of supporting the natural re-colonization of the Caucasus.
Conference Paper
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Persian leopard mortalities were recorded in 31 provinces of Iran while a national survey was undertaken to assess current status of the leopard in the country. Questionnaires were frequently sent out to the provincial offices of the Department of Environment in each province from 2007 to 2011. Interviews with hunters and local knowledgeable people were done to investigate hunted and poisoned leopard individuals. We recorded a total of 71 leopard mortalities across the country while 70% of them (n=50) were as a result of intentional poisoning and hunting of the specimens. Furthermore, 13 cases of road kills were recorded which most of them were taken place in Golestan province, Northern Iran. Mortalities as a result of human factors, direct shooting and poisoning of the species had a high rate of 9 individuals in Lorestan province in the recent years. In the meantime, habitat destructions and lack of prey sufficiency in various parts of leopard distribution range in the country resulted in increasing rate of human-leopard conflicts in the recent times. Enforcement of compensation programs to recoup for actual losses inflicted by leopards, informing local villagers and shepherds about this program and increasing amount of the fine for illegal hunting of leopards and their preys (i.e. wild goat Capra aegagrus and wild sheep Ovis orientalis) may effectively reduce revenge killings. Since majority of the Persian leopard population in the Middle East inhabits in Iran which also supports species viability in the neighbouring countries, implementing research-based and prioritized conservation programs to protect the species in its current range in the country is essential.
Article
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The present distribution of leopard (P. p. saxicolar) in the Caucasus is restricted to several small nuclei. 100 confirmed leopard observations since 1990 have been used to model the potential distribution of the species in the ecoregion by means of an Ecological Niche Factor Analysis, to assess habitat suitability and patchiness. Variables predicting leopard distribution were terrain ruggedness, distance to highways, and slope, reflecting the inaccessibility of a given area. Best fit was achieved using the harmonic mean algorithm, which produces a rather restrictive model. A total of 123,850 km² were identified as suitable habitat, separated into many patches, of which 12 were >1,000 km². A potential Caucasus meta-population could probably host up to 1,200 leopards. Large continuous clusters are located in NE Turkey, Armenia and west Azerbaijan, and in the eastern part of the Greater Caucasus. Habitat patches in the centre of the Lesser and the west of the Greater Caucasus are smaller and more fragmented. Given the limited input data, the model is relatively coarse, but it allows identifying priority areas for further field surveys and reveals critical areas for the maintenance of habitat corridors for the recolonisation of now empty patches.
Article
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Natal dispersal is a key spatially structuring demographic process for many species but is poorly known for wide-ranging carnivores, especially in cryptic, solitary species such as the leopard (Panthera pardus). We report a failed long-distance natal dispersal of a subadult male leopard (M67) in Maputaland, southern Africa, the longest reported for the species. M67 traversed three countries covering a minimum distance of 352.8 km, with a straight-line distance of 194.5 km between his natal range and the site of his death. His movements reveal potential linkages between leopard populations in southern Mozambique, Swaziland, northern KwaZulu-Natal and the Greater Kruger Ecosystem, which might represent a functioning leopard metapopulation currently regarded as separate conservation units.
Article
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The range of the Leopard is still known to include large areas of Iran. Data have been gathered mainly at nine sites since 1976. The results show that there are about 550–850 specimens in Iran, some 55% of which live in protected areas. Kurzfassung. Die Verbreitung des Leoparden schliesst weite Teile des Iran ein. Aktuelle Daten seit 1976 wurden vor allem in neun Gebieten gesammelt. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass im Iran noch etwa 550–850 Leoparden leben, 55% davon in Schutzgebieten.
Article
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In species in which juvenile survival depends strongly on male tenure, excessive trophy hunting can artificially elevate male turnover and increase infanticide, potentially to unsustainable levels. Simulation models show that the likelihood of safe harvests can be improved by restricting offtakes to males old enough to have reared their first cohort of offspring to independence; in the case of African leopards, males were ≥7 years old. Here, we explore the applicability of an age-based approach for regulating trophy hunting of leopards. We conducted a structured survey comprising photographs of known-age leopards to assess the ability of wildlife practitioners to sex and age leopards. We also evaluated the utility of four phenotypic traits for use by trophy hunters to age male leopards in the field. Our logistic regression models showed that male leopard age affected the likelihood of survey respondents identifying the correct sex; notably, males
Article
The leopard Panthera pardus tulliana survives in south-west Turkey, but after a two-month survey there for the World Wildlife Fund, the author shows that numbers are so small and the people's attitudes so hostile that this subspecies is probably doomed to extinction; leopards found in eastern Turkey are the Persian subspecies saxicolor. Other large predators are disappearing too, and the author urges the need to establish several large reserves, for which the Turkish Government's planned wildlife survey will provide the data.
Article
Summary • Top predators are seen as keystone species of ecosystems. Knowledge of their habitat requirements is important for their conservation and the stability of the wildlife communities that depend on them. The goal of our study was to model the habitat of leopard Panthera pardus in west and central Asia, where it is endangered, and analyse the connectivity between different known populations in the Caucasus to enable more effective conservation management strategies to be implemented. • Presence and absence data for the species were evaluated from the Caucasus, Middle East and central Asia. Habitat variables related to climate, terrain, land cover and human disturbance were used to construct a predictive model of leopard habitat selection by employing a geographic information system (GIS) and logistic regression. • Our model suggested that leopards in west and central Asia avoid deserts, areas with long-duration snow cover and areas that are near urban development. Our research also provides an algorithm for sample data management, which could be used in modelling habitats for similar species. • Synthesis and applications. This model provides a tool to improve search effectiveness for leopard in the Caucasus, Middle East and central Asia as well as for the conservation and management of the species. The model can predict the probable distribution of leopards and the corridors between various known populations. Connectivity patterns can be used to facilitate corridor planning for leopard conservation, especially in the Caucasus, where the leopard is a top priority conservation species. Also, as top predators are often associated with high biodiversity, the leopard habitat model could help to identify biodiversity hotspots. The protection of biodiversity hotspots is seen as the most effective way to conserve biodiversity globally.
Persian leopard found dead in Halabja
  • O Aziz
Aziz, O. (2014): Persian leopard found dead in Halabja. http://basnews.com/index.php/en/ lifestyle/47739 [downloaded on 10.06.2015].
Panthera pardus ssp. saxicolor
  • I Khorozyan
Khorozyan, I. (2008). Panthera pardus ssp. saxicolor. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. www.iucnredlist.org [retrieved on 10.06.2015].
Strategy for the Conservation of the Leopard in the Caucasus Ecoregion (Report)
  • C Breitenmoser-Würsten
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