Foreign hunters target rare Gazelle

Hunters from neighboring countries who enter Iran under the guise of leisure travel hunt the rare Persian gazelle in Khuzestan Province seemingly with impunity.

The endangered gazelle, a subspecies of the goitered gazelle, was long thought extinct in Iran until it was spotted again in the 2007, but it may very well be heading for extinction —  this time for real.

“Officials at the Department of Environment did not believe me when I said the gazelles weren’t extinct until I showed them photographic evidence,” Baqer Mousavi, a former park ranger, told the Persian news website Khabar Online.

The Mishdagh region, where the Persian gazelle is found, was declared a protected area in 2011 and a hunting ban was imposed, but the DOE has not enforced it effectively.

During his service, Mousavi was forced to protect the area, which covers 40,000 hectares, “with a barely-functioning motorbike and no gun.”

“I used makeshift spike strips to impede the movement of cars used by hunters,” he said.

Reportedly, hunters from the UAE, Qatar and Kuwait frequently set up camps in the area for up to two weeks, hunting the endangered species by temporarily blinding them using searchlights and shooting them.

“They bribe the right people and gain full, uninterrupted access to a no-hunting zones,” he claimed, a serious accusation that may not be too surprising, given the fact that DOE employees are among the lowest paid in the public sector.

Mousavi claims to have been fired due to “frequently reporting these outrageous incidents,” but insists he has not given up protecting the area.
“I may have lost my job, but I will never stop reporting crimes against nature,” he insisted.


Hunting Permits; Fact or Fiction?
A simple online search reveals an alarmingly large number of foreign-based travel agencies that offer hunting tours to Iran and claim to provide hunters with legal licenses.
Photos of avid trophy hunters standing by the lifeless bodies of their hunts or holding the severed heads of their kills attest to the fact that these travel agencies do indeed operate in Iran, even though the DOE has vehemently denied issuing hunting permits.
“Not a single permit was granted to foreign nationals or Iranians to hunt endangered species last year, and we haven’t issued any so far this year,” Ali Teymouri, deputy for hunting and fishing at the DOE, was quoted as saying as recently as October.
This is while one travel agency, Balkan Hunters Club, charges between €800 and €1,300 depending on the type of license requested by the hunter.

By Financial Tribune