Financial Tribune- Two rare Persian leopards have been spotted in Khonar, a no-hunting zone near Aradan in Semnan Province, raising hopes that their numbers may be increasing. Speaking to Mehr News Agency, Javad Shah-Hosseini, the head of Aradan Department of Environment, said the sighting increases the tally of leopards spotted in the area in recent months to five.
“We’re close to birthing season for most mammals, including leopards, so we have to be extra vigilant to ensure the safety of pregnant leopards,” he said. Studies have shown that 71% of all Persian leopard fatalities are attributed to illegal hunting or poisoning by shepherds trying to protect their livestock.
Reduced prey population and shrinkage of their natural habitat are other factors threatening the graceful, but imperiled, big cats. Efforts to protect the Persian leopard will help other wildlife species as well, making the leopard a so-called umbrella species.
Due to its wide distribution, protecting the endangered species will also help conserve the populations of other animals that share the same habitat.