Tehran, 6 June 2006 (CHN) -- 30 sensitive telecameras will be set in Khartouran region to record the number of Persian leopards and the pattern of spots on their bodies to protect this rare and endangered mammal.
The Persian leopard is the largest of the several subspecies of leopards (Panthera pardus), which are the smallest of the big cats. The leopard is the most secretive of the big cats and has the ability to adapt itself to different conditions but needs an area where it is free from excessive human persecution. Distribution of this animal is mainly limited to northern Iran and northwestern Afghanistan.
Persian leopard is considered one of the most endangered mammals, for it has been hunted to a large extent for its fur and persecuted because of its attacks on livestock. It is also threatened by the loss and derogation of its habitat and also warfare in their range.
What is most interesting about this animal is that not only the shape of spots on each leopard is different from the others but also based on the recent studies on the skin of this animal, the spots of the animal are different on each half of its body. By using close-up lenses to focus on the spots of leopards, experts hope to have a more accurate statistics about this animal by setting these telecameras.
According to unofficial records, only 60 leopards exist in Iran at present. The project for counting the number of Persian leopards will start from fall 2006 by setting a number of telecameras in the region.
According to Houshang Ziayi, one of the people involved with this project, currently 30 telecameras have been set in the area but there is a hope to increase that number to 100 in a near future.
"In their researches, Iranian and European teams concluded that since spring and summer are the breeding seasons of leopards and taking into account that leopard is a shy animal and it may take shelter during these seasons, the best time for starting the project and setting the telecameras will be autumn," explained Ziayi.
The high price of these telecameras on the one hand and the existence of economical sanctions against Iran on the other are some of the obstacles on the way of this project. "Despite all these difficulties along the way, we will do our best to continue the project under any condition. We even have made some negotiations with some European companies to support us in fulfilling this project," said Ziaeie.
Leopard is a very clever and strong animal which never attacks human beings. The leopard's ability to silently follow prey is excellent. Usually leopard hunts for small mammals and birds. It is able to get within a few feet of its prey before seizing the prey by the throat or the back of the neck and killing it by strangulation. The Persian leopard hunts during night time and rests in a tree branch, dense vegetation or among rocks during the day. It has a keen sense of smell and excellent eyesight.
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