Hunting Attractions and Facilities in Iran


San'ate Hamlo Naql, Monthly Magazine, No. 188, Jan. 2000, Page
Page 16

Despite the suitable grounds available for operating hunting tours in Iran, due to lack of programming on the part of organizations concerned and high cost of receiving hunting license, a group of rich Arab sheikhs from the southern Persian Gulf states come to Iran with the hope of hunting bustards whose meat is said to be good for increasing one's sexual power.

There are over 100 large hunting grounds all over Iran, with some of them such as Jajroud protected regions enjoying world fame. The main species of animals and birds living in these hunting grounds are: ram, buffalo, wild goat, gazelle, panther, bear, wolf, boar, ewe, goat, fox, rabbit, pheasant, partridge, dull-yellow partridge, bustard, goose, and duck. The hunting grounds have been scattered across the country proportionately so much so that they cover almost most of Iranian provinces.

There are fishing activities in over 50 lakes and wetlands and in all rivers across Iran. There are also some rare species of fish in Iranian rivers. Iranian wetlands annually host millions of migratory birds, providing a good opportunity for hunting some of them.

International poles: Most hunting grounds in Iran are world famous despite hard access to them. Annually, hundreds of foreign hunters travel to Iran for hunting mainly in the provinces of Tehran, West Azarbaijan, Semnan, Khorassan, Isfahan, Kerman, Fars, Hormuzgan and Bushehr. To this end, the provinces of Fars and Bushehr enjoy special significance for bustard hunting. Presently, scores of rich Arab sheikhs from the southern Persian Gulf states (including a number of statesmen of the United Arab Emirates) spend a large amount of money to travel to Iran to hunt bustard which they believe can increase their sexual power.

At national level, hunting is mostly carried out illegally and to this end, hunting grounds located at the foot of Zagros and Alborz chains of mountains, due to their easy accessibility and proximity to populous areas, have been under the most pressure. Certain plains in central Iran in such regions as Kerman, Isfahan, Arak and Fars house some hunting grounds which have been welcomed by hunters at national level. Fishing at large lakes in Iran assumes a national aspect. Per year, thousands of people throng to Lar, Hamoun and Karaj dam lakes with the hope of catching fish. Hunting birds and catching fish, mainly aimed at providing a part of protein needs and filling leisure time, rather than making a living, are common among rural and tribal people.

Exploitation Status: Today, operating hunting tours is considered among the most lucrative grounds for exploitation of ecological resources and tourist attractions in every country but unfortunately in Iran this field has never been utilized properly. According to a report by the Agence France Presse (AFP) in February 1999, over one million hunting and fishing licenses are sold in France annually. Hunting grounds in that country are run by the private sector and animals for hunting are reared and freed in those hunting grounds. For this reason, hunting in that country is not at all dependent on the biological capacity of the hunting grounds but rather on the volume of investments made by investors. The area France occupies is one third of Iran's but its population plus the number of tourists is fifty percent more than that of Iran.

Basically, bio-diversity of France is by no means comparable to that of Iran. If types of climate are considered as the yardstick, bio-diversity in Iran is 20 times as many as that of France. If the area of the country is multiplied by its population density and the figure is added to the volume of development structures, the result will show that natural habitats in Iran is 20 times as many as that of France and based on this figure, Iran is expected to issue 20 million hunting and fishing licenses every year. If ten percent of these 20 million licenses are issued for hunting and if every hunter applies for two licenses in each hunting trip, one can expect Iranian hunting grounds to host up to one million foreign hunters every year. (Of course, as mentioned before, reaching this figure depends on due investments, privatization of the hunting grounds and rearing hunting species there, or else, the capacity of natural hunting grounds will never reach this level).

But the realities on the ground show that hunting tours in Iran have practically stopped and nearly no hunting tour has been arranged by Iranian travel agencies in recent year. These agencies cite lack of clear grounds for investment in the field of hunting tours, lack of programs on the part of relevant organizations such as Iran Sightseeing and Tourism Organization and Department of Environment (DoE) and illogically high price of hunting license as reasons for failure to attract foreign tourists who are interested in hunting.

Unfortunately, from the beginning the regions protected by the Department of Environment have mistakenly been recognized as sole regions suitable for attraction of foreign hunters and tourists and in most cases, the DoE which is responsible for conservation of wild life and which is aware of the gradual extinction of hunting species, has taken an obsessive approach to the development of tourism for purpose of hunting and has preferred to stop investments in this field. The reality is that in recent decades, uncontrolled hunting and fishing has been the cause of extinction of many animal species in Iran and has exposed many other species to the danger of extinction and for this reason, it is natural for environmentalists to take an obsessive approach to hunting. However, environmental experts reiterate that hunting in national parks and wild life habitats has been controlled and this not only will not lead to extinction of any species but on the contrary will create a balance between the reproduction of those animals and the capacity of their habitats to insure their survival.

Utilization of fishing resources and bird hunting is a better condition than that of hunting grounds. Issuance of licenses for hunting bustard in southern Iran is a good source of foreign exchange revenue for the country. There is however no information available on the exact amount of such hard currency revenue. Each year in the fishing season, the Department of Environment issues fishing licenses which are welcomed by applicants for most of rivers and lakes as well as currents of water flowing near big cities. Villagers and tribesmen have long been considered potential hunters and this is why villagers now account for the majority of hunting and fishing activities in natural regions of the country. Unfortunately, there are no rules or controls in this sector and as environmental experts believe, illegal hunting and fishing by local and native people has inflicted heaviest damage to various animal species. There is almost no activity in Iran for hunting various species of reptiles or insects.

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