People, Environment

Insurance Cover for Harm by Persian Leopards

Insurance Cover for Harm by Persian LeopardsInsurance Cover for Harm by Persian Leopards

Rural residents and shepherds across Iran are now insured against loss inflicted by the Persian leopard, thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed between the Department of Environment and insurance company Ma.

 The MOU was signed on Friday, Mehr News Agency reported.

The Persian leopard is the only living Pantera subspecies in Iran “which is of immense ecological value and historical significance to the country,” Ali Teymouri, director of the Conservation, Hunting and Fishing Office at the DOE.

Stakeholders, i.e. shepherds and rural residents, “do not pay insurance fees,” according to Majid Safdari, chief executive of Ma.

Over the past eight years, 166 leopards have perished across the country. Major causes of death include road accidents, hunting for hide, and poisoning by shepherds trying to protect their livestock.

A study spanning four years found that 71% of all Persian leopard fatalities were attributed to illegal hunting or poisoning. Reduced prey population and shrinkage of the natural habitat are other factors threatening the graceful, but imperiled, big cats.

Insuring the leopard, which is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is a part of the comprehensive conservation plan issued by the DOE in February.

Efforts to protect the Persian leopard will not only help the species, but other wildlife 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, such as the brown bear and hyena.