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Annual Report 2012-2013
Annual Report 2012-2013

 

Dear Friends of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF),
During this past year, despite the challenging economic conditions, we have achieved remarkable success with the funds we raised at our Nov. 2011 Reception and Auction fundraiser. We were able to cover most of our expenses for 2012 and continued to raise more donations in May 2012 by holding another fundraiser for our members and loyal donors. These funds helped us invest in the publication of literature as well as field and research projects. For example, we ended the first phase of the Golestan Persian Leopard Project and published the report. We also gathered other funds from donors and from different companies like Barez Industrial Group, a tire producer in Iran, which supports our Asiatic black bear project and has announced further commitments in sponsoring other programs like the Asiatic cheetah project. We also enjoyed financial support from PWF (the Persian Wildlife Foundation), our American partner, for the grants allocated to the Laristan sheep project. Our Dolphin project in Hengam Island, situated in the middle of the Persian Gulf, has been supported by funds granted by the SGP/GEF offices of the UNDP in Tehran. Pars Online Group of Companies is also one of our sponsors, supporting the foundation and our projects in different ways. We also thank Tadvin Co., an accountancy firm, for their voluntary book keeping, accounting, as well as sincere contributions to PWHF in other administrative tasks.
The Dolphin conservation program in Hengam Island began in 2010. It was funded and monitored by the SGP/GEF offices of UNDP in Iran and implemented in the field by the PWHF. It consisted of training the local boatmen in order to reduce accidents with the Dolphins of Hengam Island during peak tourism seasons. This training made use of workshops and the publication of awareness material both for boatmen and tourists. Following these activities, the Boating Development Cooperative was created by the locals and continued to monitor the activities of boatmen in the Persian Gulf. The first phase of this project ended in early 2012 and the development cooperative is now under the supervision of the government of Hormozgan Province. SGP/GEF has committed funds to the second phase of the project in a joint account with the Qeshm Island Geopark project. We are preparing a proposal to determine the best means of splitting these funds. Mr. Mani Mirsadeghi, a renowned wildlife cinematographer, also donated a documentary that he had produced about the dolphins of Hengam Island.
The first phase of the Golestan Persian Leopard Project also ended in early 2012. Similar to other projects, the PWHF outsourced the fieldwork to another NGO but funded, managed and monitored the project itself. This detailed survey was the first of its kind ever done in Iran. The main achievement was a census of the leopard population in the Golestan National Park (GNP). The results showed that approximately 23 to 42 leopards live in this National Park. The study also helped identify the main threats to the leopard’s survival. The final report of the first phase was published in spring 2012. The second phase of this project has started and will identify and assess the local communities’ impact on the existing populations of wildlife in the National Park, in order to solicit the local people’s cooperation and participation in conservation efforts. Mr. Reza Tavakoli of Pars Glass Co. has made a generous donation to this project, and Minoudasht Olive Oil Company will play an important financial role in supporting its second phase. Mr. Parham Dibadj, a wildlife documentary producer, is shooting a film on the status of the Persian leopard in the GNP.
In another first of its kind survey, the Laristan sheep, the smallest wild sheep in the world, was studied in its habitat. This habitat, a region consisting of 4,967,780 hectares includes southern Fars province, eastern Hormozgan and parts of Bushehr. According to the results of the study, approximately 700 head of sheep were identified in non-protected areas and 500 in protected areas. The conclusions of this study also suggest that the future of this diminutive wild sheep is in danger and seriously requires conservation action. The fieldwork for this survey was conducted by three separate sub-contractors, Plan for the Land Society, Mohitban Society, and Mr. Bijan Dareshuri. The overall project was managed by the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and entirely funded by the Persian Wildlife Foundation (PWF), based in the United States.
Our Asiatic Black Bear project focuses on the Baluchi sub-species Ursus thibetanus gedrosianus, living in Iran and Pakistan. This animal ekes out an existence in the harsh environment typical of the study area. Severe drought in Kerman, Hormozgan, and Sistan and Baluchistan provinces threatens the existence of this unique mammal. The project has drawn attention to the long term survival needs of this endangered sub-species. The first phase of the project consisted of performing a head count of the Black bears living in these areas using camera traps. Previously, no specific protected area designated as Asiatic Black Bear habitat existed, but thanks to this project, Bahraseman, Kuh-e Shir and Sang-e Mes protected areas and Zaryab wildlife refuge are now registered as Asiatic Black Bear protected habitats. Barez Industrial Group, the project’s corporate sponsor has agreed to provide a sum of 8,000,000 Rials (approximately $320) per month for the operation of the project. A book in the series “Iran’s Endangered Animals” written by Ali Golshan will be published on the Asiatic black bear, as an awareness tool for the project. A film depicting the Asiatic black bear in its natural habitat will be produced by Mr. Mehdi Chalani. We are negotiating with Barez Industrial Group to persuade them to support the production of these awareness materials. PWHF is also planning to start an awareness campaign in the advertisement venues of Mahan Airlines together with Kerman Development Company, its main stakeholder.
The first volume of the series “Iran’s endangered species” called “Cry of the Cheetah” was published in the summer of 2012. The book, written by Mr. Ali Golshan, was entirely funded by PWHF. It is written in Persian with an abstract in English. Three thousand copies have been printed in this edition. The book is about the status of the Asiatic cheetah, the most endangered species living in Iran. Its target audience includes children and adolescents as well as donors and sponsors for fundraising. One thousand copies of the book were bought by Aftab Azarin bilingual school and have been distributed to its students. Barez Industrial Group and UNDP SGP/GEF have expressed interest in sponsoring the second edition of this book, which is to be distributed among communities living around Cheetah habitats, as well as participants in related workshops.
We also undertook some projects that required immediate attention. They included the digging of a well and the construction of several waterholes in Geno Protected Area to mitigate the effects of drought and unnecessary grazing of ungulates in lower areas, where they are more susceptible to poaching. We also provided food for a nursing bear in Pardisan Park in Tehran.
PWHF also undertakes conservation-related research projects. This kind of research provides a basis on which sound conservation projects can be identified and implemented. It is critical in the execution of field projects and/or for the planning of long-term programs. This past March PWHF organized a scientific exchange program between Iran and the National Academy of Sciences in the United States of America. In the first exchange trip of this program a group of 13 Iranian scientists and conservationists visited prominent centers active in conservation science in the United States, including the Smithsonian Institution, University of California at Irvine (Department of Environment), State University of New Mexico and different national parks and wildlife refuges.
Together with other organizations and foundations, we also try to exchange knowledge and information by organizing workshops and participating in conservation forums. Last year we collaborated with the Omid-e-Mehr Foundation whose mission is the well-being of young women living in difficult economic and social conditions. We organized 5 workshops for these girls and arranged visits to Khojir National Park close to Tehran. We also participated in Ecotourism forums and other events related to the environment.
This year, we have printed 3 issues of our newsletter. Our newsletter provides current conservation news for those interested in Iranian wildlife and conservation issues. It contains articles and current news on conservation activities that are taking place in Iran, including our own projects. Also, our new website, containing new features, will be launched by the end of 2012. This website will be more interactive and can be accessed using the same website address as before.
We hope to start two major new projects in the coming year. The first is a research project that will analyze the relationship between conservation and hunting and will re-examine current laws and practices. The objective will be to recommend guidelines for the Department of Environment to help them maximize conservation objectives. We have already started the data gathering process. The project is slated for completion by mid-2013. Our second project is the undertaking of a novel method for the management of one of the protected areas. This project will take the form of a co-management program with the Department of Environment aimed at developing a “best practice” management methodology for the national parks and protected areas of Iran.
We appreciate your support and ongoing interest.
The Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation