GORGAN, Dec. 31 (Mehr News Agency) - In less than ten days, two dead leopards have been found in east and west of Golestan province. The leopards are believed by Department of Environment experts to having died of hunger; they further speculate that the motorway crossing the national park would also play a role in the deadly incident.
Apart from hunters which are the most threatening factors in the region for wildlife, environmental destruction is also an additional source of extinction of a species. What invites here the public attention is the bare fact that these animals should be protected by any means possible so that we do not see any animal deaths.
Last week, a leopard was found dead in Bandar Gaz, diagnosed to be killed by hitting a hard object on the head; the death of the leopard brought to the surface the bitter reality of the destruction of the animal's habitat.
On Tuesday evening, Golestan Province Department of Environment officials announced a second leopard death reportedly hit by cars in the road crossing the national part.
An environmental expert and activist told Mehr News local correspondent that shortage of food sources in the natural habitat of the animal was an effect of causes such as illegal hunting of leopards' natural pray, which "lured the animal to human settlements and livestock, which in turn ushers in the killing of leopard by local people," said Elham Naderi. "Extensive and exhaustive human activities have rendered habitats ruined; construction of roads without necessary environmental impact assessment, deforestation, and overspread of human settlements into the forest pushes the animal's natural territory to the edge," she added.
"The destruction of natural habitat reduces the wildlife habitats to islands and negatively affects the delicate ecological balance; protecting the leopards' natural food sources, protecting their natural habitats, and reimbursing the damages on local people would have considerable impact on inculcating in the local communities the proper conduct in dealing with the animal," said Naderi, "providing necessary education to local people about the leopards' natural habitat, raising the fines and punishments, and taking strict measures against the perpetrators in death of leopards would also play a crucial role in saving the animal," she emphasized.
She also criticized the notorious motorway crossing the Golestan Natural Park in jeopardizing the wildlife in the province; "during last months, different species of wildlife and two other male and female leopards have been killed by cars driving past, hitting the reckless animals crossing the road," she said.
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The head of Bandar Gaz Department of Environment local office told Mehr News that they received a report by environmental activists on the death of a leopard beside the river crossing the Shah Pasand forest after 40 minutes of hiking; the body was transferred to the office and identified as an 18-month leopard, which bore bruises in the tail, and signs of a hard object hitting the head were obvious.
"The leopards are active at nights and live in a rocky terrain of the national park; we think that a free fall from a steep rock or disease would be the causes of death," said Ramezanali Nafar.
Mahmoud Shakiba, an expert of Department told Mehr News that local people should receive information about the leopard and other animal species in their region; "leopards can adapt themselves with the conditions fast, and they are found even in northern parts of the province; when Asiatic cheetahs are sponsored by national football squad in Brazil World Cup of 2014, we should protect few leopards for the posterity," he said.
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