People, Environment

Leopard Poacher Handed Suspended Sentence

Leopard Poacher Handed  Suspended SentenceLeopard Poacher Handed  Suspended Sentence

A poacher charged with killing a Persian leopard in Savadkouh, Mazandaran Province, has been handed a two-year suspended sentence.

The unidentified hunter was initially exonerated but following an appeal by the Savadkouh office of the Department of Environment and further investigation, the court ruled that the poacher serve a two-year suspended sentence “due to not having any priors and disability”.

He was found and arrested shortly after uploading a picture of himself carrying the corpse of a large leopard on his shoulders on social media, the Persian news website Fararu reported.

The hunter reportedly lost the use of both legs following an accident that occurred after killing the endangered species.

Court documents showed that the leopard was lured with a slab of poisoned meat.

Ali Teymouri, director of the Hunting and Fishing Office at the DOE, had said last week that the department was seeking the maximum penalty of three years in jail and 800 million rials ($22,000) in compensation.

Once the court of appeals upholds the verdict, the DOE will petition for payment of the fine, according to SNN.

Over the past eight years, more than 166 leopards have perished across the country. Road accidents, hunting and poisoning by shepherds trying to protect their livestock are the main causes of death.

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.

At least 74 species of Iranian wildlife are on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List for threatened species, a sign of serious threats against the country’s biodiversity.