Captive breeding saves endangered Persian zebras

TEHRAN — Effective measures have been taken to protect the endangered Persian zebra population, so that 42 zebras have so far been bred in captivity.

The Persian onager, also called Persian zebra, is a subspecies of onager native to Iran. It is listed as endangered, with no more than 1000 individuals left in the wild and only 30 individuals living in North American institutions.

Persian onagers are known to inhabit mountain steppes, semi-deserts or desert plains. They are usually found in desert steppes. Their largest population is in Khar Turan National Park.

The Persian onager, also called Persian zebra, is listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List because it is near extinction. The Persian evening primrose is listed as endangered by the IUCN Red List because it is close to extinction. Currently, poaching for meat and hides, competition with livestock, and drought are the greatest threats to this species. Asiatic zebras are highly and legally protected; their hunting is prohibited.

In recent years, due to the measures taken by the Department of Environment (DOE) to conserve the Persian zebra, the population of this species in the breeding grounds has experienced favorable growth.

In 2017, 10 zebras were transferred to Touran National Park of which 5 died on the way, and also in the same year another 5 zebras were transferred to Kavir National Park.”

Currently, 42 Persian zebras live in breeding centers in the provinces of Yazd, Alborz, Semnan, Fars, Kerman and Tehran, which are also in good condition, said Gholamreza Ebdali, head of the protection and management office of the DOE wildlife.

“We intend to transfer a number of species from Kerman province to the Kavir National Park site located in Semnan. In the provinces of Fars, Yazd and Kerman, we are also setting up new centers for the protection of this species,” he explained.

Captive breeding is done for endangered and IUCN Red-listed species, such as Asian cheetah, Persian zebra and fallow deer, he added.

According to the IUCN, at least 40% of animals, insects and plants are threatened with extinction in the world.

Currently, more than 41% of amphibians, 26% of mammals, 21% of reptiles and 13% of birds are threatened. According to the latest statistics, the number of endangered species in the country is 75 species of vertebrates (18 species of mammals, 29 species of birds, 4 species of amphibians and 16 species of reptiles) on the red list of the IUCN.

Iran has a high species diversity due to geographical conditions, climatic diversity, huge water resources from the Caspian Sea in the north and the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea in the south.

According to the latest studies, about 1,300 species of vertebrates including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and aquatic fishes, about 30,000 species of invertebrates and 8,000 species of plants have been identified in the country.

Unfortunately, over the past two decades, human activities have led to an alarming degradation of ecosystems, the suppression of genes, species and biological capacities; Human threats to biodiversity have accelerated the most over the past 50 years in the entire history of human life.