This story sounds almost too good to be true, but, according to France 24, it’s all fact. The news source reports that 19 hunters in Iranian Kurdistan have publicly vowed to stop tracking and killing animals, and are encouraging their fellows to do the same. The men went so far as to destroy their hunting equipment, breaking their rifles, and lighting their traps on fire in a public demonstration of solidarity with the animals they once hunted.
The move came shortly after the Iranian Department of the Environment published a report outlining the state of the country’s animal biodiversity. The report red-listed 74 species of Iranian wildlife, warning that without a significant and concentrated effort to save these rare and endangered species, they will soon vanish entirely. Among the animals slated for possible extinction are the Asiatic cheetah, Caspian seal, Iranian yellow deer, Persian zebra, and blue whale.
The Department of Environment has identified three primary reasons for the rapid decline of so many wildlife species. The most significant factor, urban development and human activities, includes issues such as the availability of illegal weapons and the trade in wild animals and animal body parts. The former hunters now regretfully admit that their actions contributed to the loss of national biodiversity.
“You can’t really make a living in Iran from hunting, unless you become a poacher and sell specific species that are illegal to hunt, like tigers [and] eagles,” said one veteran hunter. “I realize now that what I did was damaging to our local wildlife. There are hardly any partridges left in this area. The nearby mountains used to be full of wild goats, but now there are only a dozen left. There also used to be a beautiful bird called the Sandgrouse, which nested all over the mountains, but nobody has seen them in 15 years.”
“Hunting is out of control, and it’s destroying our wildlife. That’s why I and other hunters decided to set an example by taking an oath to stop killing all animals.”
The 19 hunters were inspired to take the public vow after meeting with Chya, an environmental organization based in Iranian Kurdistan. The nonprofit group spoke with hunters one-on-one to describe the severe toll that hunting has taken on Iran’s many endangered species. The men have now teamed up with Chya to persuade their fellow hunters to abandon their devastating work. They’re also encouraging the government to revoke recently issued gun licenses. Best of luck to them!