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Winding-up of the field and literature research of the “National Wild Ungulate Monitoring Project”
Winding-up of the field and literature research of the “National Wild Ungulate Monitoring Project”

Two years of continuous efforts resulted in winding-up the field and literature research of the “National Wild Ungulate Monitoring Project”, which ended in October 2016. The results of this project will be shortly reported to the Department of Environment.

This study started as a bilateral project between the Department of Environment and Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation and the collaboration of Göttingen University in 2014. In this study, we assessed surveying and monitoring methods of 6 important herbivores of Iran: wild sheep, wild bezoar goat, red deer, roe deer, Persian gazelle and Chinkara; in forests, plains and mountainous areas.

Mahmood Soufi, Arash Ghoddousi, Lukas Egli, Amir Hossein Khaleghi Hamidi, Sepideh Kashani, Hamed Abolghasemi and Taher Ghadirian were the experts who collaborated in this project. The project also sought consultancy from Dr. Raul Valdez from of the University of New Mexico and Dr. Mathias Waltert from Göttingen University respectively, during their visits to Iran.

At the beginning of the project, every published and prevalent method for the survey and monitoring of ungulates (wild sheep, red deer, roe deer, wild goat, Persian gazelle and Chikara) were revised, and then appropriate methods for the surveying and monitoring of each of the targeted species according to their different habitats in Iran were studied and designed. Pilot sites were chosen according to species and habitats. In total, 8 survey methods were examined in 6 pilot sites.

Golestan National Park (Golestan Province), Ghamishlu National Park (Isfahan Province), Kavir National Park (Semnan Province), Ghorogh Fenced Area (Golestan Province) Aynalu Fenced Area (Kiamaki Wildlife Refuge, East Azarbaijan Province) and Dodangeh Wildlife Refuge (Mazandaran Province) were the pilot sites of this project.

Double observer point count, line transect, strip transect, total count in sampling units, REM using camera traps, pellet group count- faecal standing crop, line transect- dung count and occupancy  modeling were the examined methods in these areas.

Iran with its vast plains, meadows and mountainous areas and forests, shapes a perfect habitat for different species, especially large mammals. Large herbivores play a vital role in the structure and function of their habitats. These animals are endangered all over the world due to lack of managed hunting, habitat destruction and economic development. The lack of standard and scientific monitoring methods renders decision-making and logical management of wildlife populations a difficult task. In order to do effective conservation we first need to have a correct knowledge of the population of the target species. Hopefully the results of the study “National Wild Ungulate Monitoring Methods” will be a great achievement in the effective and sustainable conservation of herbivore populations in Iran.