TEHRAN – A plan to conserve Persian fallow deer and red deer is underway in the forests of Arasbaran in the northwestern province of eastern Azerbaijan, the head of the provincial environment department said.
Plans to restore the maral (Iranian red deer) as an extinct animal species began in eastern Azerbaijan in 1991 and 7 deer were transferred from the breeding site in northern Golestan to one of eastern Azerbaijan, IRNA said citing Hassan Abbasnejad on Sunday.
After increasing the maral population, the area has grown to 186 hectares and now this site is home to more than 26 red deer, he added.
The mountainous and green area of Inanloo is located in the town of Kalibar at an altitude of 1500 meters above sea level, which was selected to breed marals due to its vegetation and suitable forests, a he added.
Maral is one of the largest types of deer whose population has unfortunately declined in the country. However, red deer are literally found from the shores of the Caspian Sea to the high alpine meadows of the Alborz Mountains.
Mating of red deer begins each year in the second half of September and lasts one month.
Not all deer species recovery programs have focused on conservation, but only on reproduction.According to the latest monitoring in marine habitats during mating season, the population of this species in Golestan National Park has been counted 612, which was recorded 540 years ago.
Road building, land use change and overgrazing of livestock in the Hyrcanian forests and, most importantly, the presence of poachers are among the main factors influencing the decline of the maral population.
persian fallow deer
The primary habitat of fallow deer in the country includes the western and southwestern areas, but the declining trend in numbers of these valuable species in the 1330s (1951-1961) led to measures to save them since the end of the decade.
For 60 years the species has inhabited protected areas, and the most important center for fallow deer reproduction has been the semi-natural breeding site of Dasht-e Naz in the town of Sari, where over the past two years the population of the species has increased considerably.
Another habitat for breeding valuable species is Ashk Island in Lake Urmia, which has become a safe place to protect the species from extinction due to difficult access by illegal poachers.
The Persian fallow deer population at the Dasht-e Naz site has increased by about 60 percent, to 53, in less than two years.
Conservation or reproduction?
Biodiversity expert Farshad Eskandari said that until now the programs implemented for the revival of deer species were not conservation programs, but only breeding programs.
To reintroduce species into a natural habitat, three elements must be considered, including water, food, and opposing forces that can endanger the lives of the species. For example, on the island of Ashk, in addition to the drying up of Lake Urmia, we encountered a large population of carnivorous animals, which affected the life of this species. To do this, we must first eliminate the extinction factors, then introduce the species, he further explained.
Research has not been conducted on deer or many other animals in the country because studies on wildlife are expensive and that is why research is scarce, he said, adding, but now the Monitoring is of great importance, because we must determine why the species population is not increasing although it is in captivity.
As a result, the lack of precise information and constant monitoring are among the reasons that put this species at greater risk, he lamented.
FB / MG