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Improving wild sheep habitat in Varjin Protected Area
Improving wild sheep habitat in Varjin Protected Area

One of the earliest projects undertaken by the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation was to restore water resources and provide winter feed for the wild sheep population of Varjin Protected Area in Northeast Tehran. Varjin Protected Area has been an important habitat for a relatively large population of Central Alborz wild sheep since many years ago. Proximity to Tehran and gradual encroachment of residential areas around the Protected Area has spelled many problems for local wildlife. Main threats include growing urbanization, expansion of roads and private gardens, and separation of local animals from outside populations. In the past, the indigenous wild sheep used to move seasonally between Varjin and other neighboring habitats such as Lar Valley, Sorkhe-Hesar, and Khojir. Now, they are almost completely cordoned off from all sides by human settlements and have to spend their entire time within parameters of the Protected Area if they are to survive.
To prevent the wild sheep from descending into urban areas in search of water, PWHF initiated a project five years ago and provided safe and permanent water resources inside the Protected Area. A well was dug and facilities were installed to pump water uphill into a water hole which was built well above reach of humans in the Southeastern part of the Protected Area. Extra water was used to irrigate the land around the water hole to cultivate alfalfa as a supplement fodder for winters. Moreover, natural grass of the area was annually harvested to further supplement winter fodder for the animals. Another water hole was built in Tork Mazraeh within a safe distance from urban areas and roads in the Southwestern section of the protected Area and a reservoir and pumping facilities were also installed. Availability of water and sufficient food in winters contributed to keeping the sheep within the Protected Area and significantly lowered fatalities caused by animals’ crossing over into neighboring lands or roads.