People, Environment

Animal Population Census Results Released

Animal Population Census Results ReleasedAnimal Population Census Results Released

The results of an animal census carried out in the last Iranian year (ended March 19, 2016) was recently publicized, showing an increase in the populations of deer and ovis but a decline in the number of wild goats.

Although data from past years are not reliable enough to enable comparative studies, rough estimates indicate that the ovis and deer populations have grown whereas wild goat numbers have declined, most probably due to the outbreak of ovine rinderpest (aka peste des petits ruminants or PPR).

Certain ecosystems also show drops in animal populations such as Haftad Qolleh region (Markazi Province) where PPR took a huge toll on wildlife or Siahkouh National Park (Yazd and Isfahan provinces) where numbers of wild goats plummeted as a result of food shortage and drought.   

The recent head count is said to be the most accurate and comprehensive one ever, covering almost all protected areas across 31 provinces and documenting greater details of the counted animals.  

"The animals have never been listed by age and gender before and the area covered has never been so wide," said Massoumeh Safaei, a wildlife expert at the Department of Environment who was involved in the census, ILNA reported.  

She said that between 85% and 90% of the country's natural habitats were covered, adding that there is a margin of error because not all ecosystems are under the control of DOE.

In previous years, the figures were only approximations, as the process was carried out in half of the areas and the figures were derived based on estimations. This year, however, the procedure was employed in all protected areas and produced more precise figures.

The timing of the project also contributed to the accuracy of the statistics as the animals were counted during breeding season, when big species such as wild goat, ovis, deer and chinkara tend to gather in one place, making it easier to spot them.

 "During this season, all members of the herd, including the adults and the young ones, get together in a large pack and are often less excitable than in other times of the year, which makes it easier to approach and count them," said Safaei.

The census was undertaken by park rangers, members of local communities, hunters, students and NGO members. These groups of people were stationed along the routes in teams of five to detect the animals.

"We're going to study and troubleshoot the methods we employed to make this year's census even more accurate," she said.


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