An Overview to the Persian Leopard Trans-boundary Habitats in the Iranian Sector of the Caucasus Ecoregion
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East Azarbaijan Province in northwest of Iran contains considerable areas of trans-boundary habitats that connect the Persian leopard areas in this region to those in South Caucasian countries of Azerbaijan and Armenia Republics.
This connection supports leopard presence in South Caucasus via trans-boundary movements of the Persian leopard individuals. Accordingly, the current short communication followed by the studies presented earlier in Chaps. 4 and 5 provides an understanding to the clusters of potential habitats with the relative suitability rates. A total of 37 distinct habitats with suitability of more than 23% for the leopard presence are identified. This study suggests that while the most suitable areas for the leopards are distributed in the northern parts of the province, potential leopard areas in southern and southwestern parts of the province are much scattered and isolated. We also propose several linear corridors that connect these habitat clusters. Poaching of prey species, excess of livestock, alternation of pasture to cultivation lands, development of road network and habitat destructions are among the factors threatening the leopard in this zone. Trans-boundary conservation practices among neighboring countries as well as improvement in protection status of several identified key areas are recommended in this chapter.
KeywordsPersian leopard Trans-boundary habitats Wildlife corridors Caucasus Ecoregion Iran Panthera pardus saxicolor East Azarbaijan Province Habitat suitability
The authors would like to acknowledge East Azarbaijan DoE General Office and East Azarbaijan Wildlife and Aquatic Conservation Institute for their supports during the field surveys. We appreciate collaborations of Farid Fasihi, Azam Jaafari, Bozorgmehr Sanei, and wildlife wardens at Kiamaki WR and cooperation of local people in surrounding villages.
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