The struggle to save Iraq's last Persian leopards

STORY: These brothers are searching for Iraq’s last Persian leopards

Conservationists think there are only 25 left in Iraq

and a rough total of 1,000 across the whole world

Their numbers are threatened by various factors

such as hunting, loss of habitat and human encroachment

Brothers Bahez and Nabaz Farooq Ali set up cameras

to observe the animals at night

(SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) IRAQI KURDISH CONSERVATIONIST, NABAZ ALI, SAYING:

“We are really glad that we could capture images of four leopards, we achieved this with our camera traps. This is making us happy and we will do our best to protect the leopards so that their numbers increase.”

Local biologist, Soran Ahmed, said only ten different Persian leopards had been recorded alive to date

(SOUNDBITE) (Kurdish) BIOLOGIST AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SULAIMANI, SORAN AHMED, SAYING:

"Most of the world’s Persian leopards are in Iran. We estimate them to be about 1,000, and about 800 of them are in Iran. In Iraq, we recorded much fewer, even though parts of Iraq and Kurdistan are very suitable for them. But due to the threats they face, there are only a few of them here. If we made protected areas they would be back. Leopards are very good to balance the environment, they are a key species. This is why we have to save them, they are part of our culture and identity."

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