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Population number and Distribution of Lesser White-Fronted Goose ( Anser erythropus) In Iran. For submission to the International Goose Conference, 1st – 4th April 2005, Helsinki, Finland. By : Jamshid Mansoori, PhD. Ecologist/ Ornithologist

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population number and distribution of lesser white fronted goose anser erythropus in iran
Population number and Distribution of Lesser White-FrontedGoose ( Anser erythropus) In Iran

For submission to the International Goose

Conference, 1st – 4th April 2005,

Helsinki, Finland.

By : Jamshid Mansoori, PhD. Ecologist/ Ornithologist

Assistant Professor, Azad Islamic University, Tonekabon Branch

April 2005

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IntroductionThe I.R.of Iran is a vast country, covers a total land area of about 1,648,184 sq. Km. nearly as large as France, England, Ireland, Italy, and Spain combined.In fact in the region, it is much larger than Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia all combined. A human population of at least 60million with an annual growth rate of about 1.5%.

Over half of Iran is mountainous andextended between the Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea at the southern boundaries.

The prominent major habitat types are desert and semi-desert

(covering approximately 60% of the country ), with a significant proportion also comprising semi-arid steppes.

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Other characteristics of habitat types are high mountain ranges and alpine zones ( which also account for a sizeable proportion of Iran' s total land area ), wetlands, arid tropical lowlands, forests and woodlands (which cover some 3.50 million ha. Just 2.3% of the land area, but considerably more than neighboring including Iraq 1.8 million ha.- and Afghanistan 1.7 million ha.), the coastal fringe ( a mosaic of tidal mudflats, mangroves, sandy beaches and sea-cliffs) and offshore islands in the Persian Gulf.

At least 11.5% of land is under cultivation ( more than half of the country is classified as uncultivable ) and large tracts of habitat, particularly semi-arid steppe, have been modified by livestock grazing.

Iran support a rich and diverse avifauna totaling approximately 500 species a consequence of the diverse range of habitats found across a very broad altitudinal range ( from 26m. below sea level to 5600m ) and Iran' s strategic location at the convergence of three major faunal regions.

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The bird fauna is predominantly Pale-arctic. Many species from the large western Pale-arctic element reach their eastern limits in the central Alborz and Zagros mountains, whilst eastern Pale-arctic taxa extend into north-east Iran, as far as Khorasan highlands. Oriental species comprise a significant proportion of the avifauna, and in the south-west there is a small Afro-tropical enclaves.

Three hundred and twenty four bird species are known as to have bred in Iran. The country also spans an important migration flyway and stopover zone for many bird species that bred to the north, east, and winter in Africa and Arabia to the southeast. In addition, some bird species which bred in northeast Europe and west Asia, migrate southeast to the Indian subcontinent to winter.

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Iran is one of the largest speciation centers of Holarctic desert flora. Yet despite 20% of Iran's 7000 plant species being endemic (most are found in the mountains regions ), there are no endemic bird species. Plissé's Ground Jay Podoces pleskei, however, which occurs in the desert regions of central and eastern Iran, is only known elsewhere from extreme western Afghanistan. This enigmatic but poorly-known bird well be one of several species subject to the focus of a specific study.

Bird Species of conservation concern

Iran supports 13 bird species considered globally threatened with extinction and ten near threatened bird species as following table

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Table 1. Threatened and near-threatened bird species occurring in Iran.___________________________________________________________________________ Conservation Status Status in Iran Pygmy Cormorant Phalacrocorax pygmaeus NT Uncommon breeder & common winter visitor Dalmatian Pelican Pelecanus crispus VU Breeder, Common winter visitorLesser White-Fronted Goose Anser erythropus VU Now rare, winter visitorMarbled Teal Marmaronetta angustirostris VU Declining breeder, common winter visitorFerruginous Duck Aythya nyroca VU Breeder and winter visitor White-headed Duck Oxyura leucocephala VU Breeder, Passage migrant, winter visitor White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicila NT Fairly common winter visitor, few breedBlack Vulture Aegypius monachus NT Uncommon, resident breederPallid Harrier Circus macruorus NT Migrant, may breed in the northern steppesGreat Spotted Eagle Aquilq clanga VU Scarce migrant & winter visitor, may breedImperial EagleAquila heliaca VU Winter visitor, may breedLesser Kestrel Falco naumanni VU Breeder & summer visitor, commonCaucasian Black Grouse Tetrao mlokosiewiczi NT Resident breeder in north-west, scarce Corncrake Crex crex VU Passage migrant, local breederSiberian Crane Grus leucogranus EN Very rare winter visitorLittle Bustard Tetrax tetrax NT Rare winter visitor, may breedGreat Bustard Otis tarda VU Rare, resident breeder & winter visitor Black-winged Pratincole Glareola nordmanni NT Rare passage migrantSociable Plover Chettusia gregaria VU Rare passage migrantGreat Snipe Gallinago media NT Scarce passage migrantSlender-billed Curlew Numenius tenuvirostris CR Very rare passage migrant, poorly knownIraq BabblerTurdoides altirostris NT Local resident breederCinereous BuntingEmberiza cineracea NT Scarce, breeding summer visitor________________________________________________________________________

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Many of these have undergone substantial, even dramatic declines in recent years, and among them, the Lesser White-fronted goose is of more concern.Although much of Iran is extremely dry, there are several very extensive wetland systems of great importance for a wide variety of wetland species; 22 of which designated as Ramsar Internationally important

Iran possesses an extremely diverse Fauna and Flora, because of its great range of habitats. Dashte-Moghan bordering with Azerbaijan north-west, uroomyieh Lake very north-west, the Caspian Sea, its 700 km. of sandy shorelines of whole southern parts, fresh water lakes, marshes and brackish lagoons in central Gilan, Miankaleh wetland, Gorgan Bay area, and the Turkemen steppe and wetlands, wetland areas of south-west ( Shadegan and Horel-azim wetland complex ) and Dez with Dashte Arjan, Parishan lake, and many others here or there in the country, provide a complex of breeding and wintering areas for a great variety of waterfowl.

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Distribution of L.W. F. Goose in Iran The Lesser White-fronted Goose once was distributed in high population in many wetland areas throughout Iran. But, due to the pressure of population growth, caused unsafe conditions and destruction of habitats, infrastructural development, illegal hunting and poaching confined this bird to some small areas as it is shown on map 1.

  • Map 1. No. of the Areas surveyed
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Population number of L.W.F. Goose Throughout Iran.The figures showing the mid-winter counts and the figures with stars are peak counts of that yearPlease see the table 2

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The reality it is that the L.W.F.Geese usually have been observed migrating in the past in populations of about 4000-7000 birds in most wetland areas of Iran. in recent years as the trend of population shows, the number of this bird decrease even in only one bird in 2005.

Although there is not a detailed survey of the L.W.F.G., in all wetland areas in Iran, however, the following curve shows that in recent years, there is a great decline in the number of the L.W.F. Geese migrating throughout the country.

The mid-winter counts of 2005 showed that only one L.W.F.Goose has been observed, therefore, it is an important alarm for all the people whom follow up the situation of this bird, and should be considered greatly.

Considering that, will help us to find out the reasons of these changes and try to find a way to prevent this decline.

As far as I know the main reasons of this decline might be defined are as follows:

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Table 2. shows that in 1970s a good population of the L.W.F.Geese have been observed in many areas throughout Iran, however, during the recent years the populationshave been decreased dramatically.

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1.In comparison to the other countries in the Middle East, Iran is a large country, therefore it is very difficult and expensive to visit all the wetland areas throughout the country. I appreciate any cooperation from any organization to help the BirdLife branch of Iran to have a comprehensive survey in all wetland areas next winter in search of L.W.F.G.

2. Although the reason of this decline is related to the decline of world population of this bird, however, it is important that this decline be identified clearly.

3. As far as I have visited most wetland areas of Iran, neither a severe change has occurred in the wetlands, nor any trace of hunting this bird has been observed.

4. In my opinion it is important to check the migration routes of this bird in recent years so that to find out any change of these routes and compare them with the past routine.

5. Another reason for the decline might relate to its hunting in some areas, therefore it should be detected and provide a situation to prevent it.

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ConservationAlthough the Department of the Environment is the only organization responsible for the conservation of wildlife resources in Iran, however, according to a very small support from the finish friends of L.W.F.G, few important areas in search of this bird have been visited every 2 weeks by a group of 4 bird watchers since 2002.

The important problem of the L.W.F.G is the lack of information and public awareness. It is vital to implement effective education program for local people, hunters, and the authorities to make them understand that this bird is in danger and should be protect as an important part of biodiversity, for our future generation. I appreciate any cooperation for the establishment of a working program in order to take a longer stride on the conservation of the Lesser White-fronted Goose.

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ReferencesMansoori, J. 1984. National Report of Iran. Second Conference of the Parties, Groningen The Netherlands. Ramseur Convention Bureau.Mansoori, J. 2000. LWFG population in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Job Completion Report. Department of the Environment. Iran.Mansoori, J. 2001. The status of the LWFG in Uromiyeh National Park. Yekom Consulting Engineers Tehran. In Farsi.Mid winter Counts of Water-birds, 1990-2005. Ornithology Unit, Department of the Environment, Iran.Khaleghizadeh, M. 2003,2004. Lesser White-fronted Goose Surveys in Dashte-Moghan and Uromiyeh National Park.Ashouri A. 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. LWFG in Bujagh wetland.Job Completion report. Gilan Environmental province, Iran.Scott, D.A. 1995. A Directory of Wetlands in the Middle East. IUCN.Birdlife International, Ramseur Convention.