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One million birds killed illegally every year at a wildlife site in Iran

A million wild birds a year are now being killed illegally at a single wildlife site in Iran. That is the stark warning from conservationists who say highly endangered migratory species face being wiped out in the near future there unless urgent action is taken.

In a letter last week to the journal Science, the conservationists pinpoint the Fereydunkenar wetlands in Iran as the site of this widespread wildlife slaughter.

Three major lagoons – Fereydunkenar, Sorkhrud and Azbaran – provide resting places for species that winter there, including the Siberian crane which is designated as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservationof Nature.

Many of the birds that travel to the wetlands are killed to provide food. However, some are sold to collectors who want to add the birds to their taxidermy collections. Their slaughter has also been made easier recently with the use of cheap transparent plastic nets which are not seen by the birds and which have proved highly effective in catching dozens in a single haul. “These nets have only made it easier for people to catch more and more birds,” said Williams.

The killing is illegal but little has been done to stop it. “Iran’s department of the environment has been unable to curb the illegal activities,” say Parchizadeh and Williams. “Armed locals show a great deal of resistance to wildlife rangers when they attempt to enforce existing laws to curtail hunting.”

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