Recent Park Ranger Murders in Iran Emphasize Ongoing Hostile Relations with Poachers

Poachers in Iran recently killed three park rangers, further underscoring the rising conflict between the two groups. Although details remain unclear, environmental science news source Mongabay reports:

  • On June 23, park rangers Mohammad Dehqani and Parviz Hormozia were shot and killed by poachers they encountered while patrolling the southern region of the Geno Biosphere Reserve.
  • On June 25, another park ranger, Manouchehr Shojaei, was shot and killed by poachers while working in southwest Iran’s Bamou National Park.

President Hassan Rouhani used the nearly consecutive events as an opportunity to rally opposition against poachers and other “environmental destroyers.” Although certainly a tragedy, these types of killings are not exactly uncommon. In fact, Iran’s Department of Environment speculates that poachers have slain 119 park rangers over the last 60 years.

In the past year alone, the International Ranger Federation (IRF) reported that poachers caused 75% of ranger deaths in Iran. According to Mongabay, poachers often kill area park rangers for three majors reasons:

  • The government has seized control over private properties throughout remote regions of the country to promote land and wildfire preservation. In rebellion, former landowners and warlords have resorted to violence in an effort to reestablish their right to hunt wildfire these areas.
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  • Some impoverished Iranians resort to poaching because the wildlife black-market is a thriving business, offering more lucrative payouts than more common, legal jobs.
  • Park rangers are authorized to carry weapons and kill poachers in self-defense. Yet, some poachers act in accordance with an Islamic Sharia law of retribution call “qisas.” Under qisas, family members are permitted to commit murder against another member’s murderer.

Sadly, despite the recent slayings, park rangers are expected to lead increasingly dangerous careers as the government moves forward with plans to appropriate additional terrestrial, marine, and coastal areas for future preservation.

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