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The migratory wild ducks face a dangerous layover in Iran

Source: Animal Rights Watch, Iran

When the wild ducks of Siberia set foot in Mazandaran, northern Iran, they risk losing their lives! Only if they are lucky they'll survive the 3000-kilometer trip and make it back to Siberia.

According to a report by Asre Emrouz, every year from early September to mid March the hunters set traps near the rivers and ponds in Sorkhroud area near Fereidounkenar and wait for the migratory ducks to arrive and receive their warm welcome. These birds, after flying for few thousands kilometers from Siberia to Mazandaran, land in the area to re-energize before continuing to warmer places. Little they know what the hunters have in store for them; and so a big number of these ducks don't make it out of Mazandaran...

Sorkhroud, Iran (View Larger Map)

By the side of Fereidounkenar road, there is a bazaar for the hunted ducks. It's made up of 10 tables and it has a covered roof. I ask Mehdi, one of the people in charge about his job. He says: "This is the profession of our ancestors. This has been going on for five centuries, and no one can stop it." When I tell him this type of hunting is illegal all over the world, he smiles and says: "Yes, it's illegal, but it happens in Iran. It has been happening for centuries."

An environmental activist is standing by the road dismayed as he watches the trade of the hunted ducks. He says he is disappointed about this situation and that while these birds are protected around the globe, in Iran they are freely hunted and traded.

The ducks are sold in pairs, from $5 for small ones to $15 for big ones. Buyers are mostly tourists who have traveled from Tehran and other cities. I ask a middle-aged man about the hunting of these ducks. He's well aware that it's illegal to hunt them, but it's clear he's been shopping for them for many years. He says: "Any time I come here during autumn or winter, I pay a visit here to shop for ducks since their meat is delicious and my wife likes it a lot." The man is an architect from Tehran. When he notices I'm a reporter, he continues: "For God's sake, don't cause any sensitivity to close this place. You know better if this bazaar gets closed, the hunting won't stop. And the bazaar will continue underground but the prices will go up which may cause hunting of more birds."

The ducks are lined up on the tables and the sellers are waiting for customers. A couple who are visiting from Tehran buy 10 ducks for about $70. The man puts two plastic bags full of ducks in the trunk and leaves with a smile. And this is the sad fate of Siberian ducks in Iran!

Related Article: Photos: Environmentalists Protecting Migratory Birds in Northern Iran

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