Call to Protect Persian leopards, and their defenders, for World Environment Day

Persian leopard caught on camera trap in Golestan National Park, Iran, in 2011. Credits: Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, Department of Environment of the I.R. of Iran

At the occasion of World Environment Day on 5th June 2022 , renowned conservationist Jane Goodall, Iranian actress and conservation advocate Hediyeh Tehrani and 48 further conservationists are calling on governments and people to work together in conservation and to safeguard endangered wildlife and its conservationists from peril through political conflicts. In their letter, published on Mongabay today, the signatories call for the release of the imprisoned conservationists from the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation, but also for other measures including the removal of international barriers to effectively and safely collaborating in the fields of conservation and development.
The Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana, also known as P.p. saxicolor or P.p. ciscaucasica) is seen as a symbol of hope for many, and yet its persistence is in danger of falling victim to political differences and conflicts. Its range extends across Iran, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan where they function as top predators and umbrella species for the ecosystems they inhabit. The core of the population lives in Iran, where our imprisoned colleagues and friends were actively involved in studying and protecting not only Asiatic cheetahs, but also the majestic leopards. Their use of camera traps for population monitoring was being misunderstood at the time, leading to their arrests almost 4 and a half years ago. The Persian Leopard inspires and needs us to join our hearts, minds, and efforts to enable this and other endangered species to persist through times of human hardships and to still be part of our nature in the future.