Persian Deer Sanctuary Destroyed by Floods in Southern Iran, Official Says


Flood water has submerged a wildlife sanctuary for the Persian fallow deer near the southern city of Dezful, the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported, citing Ahmad Reza Lahijanzadeh, the director of Khuzestan Province’s Department of Environment.

“We cannot locate 20 Persian fallow deer which live in the sanctuary. We have dispatched a helicopter to the area to search for the deer,” Mr. Lahijanzadeh said. “Flood waters have submerged the entire national park near Dezful including the fallow deer sanctuary. We have launched a search and rescue mission.”

Lahijanzadeh added: “We created a few safe areas on hills in the national park for the fallow deer after a flash flood in 2016. It is possible that they have taken refuge in these high grounds. Fallow deer are excellent swimmers which increases their chance of surviving floodwaters.”

The Persian fallow deer were at one time indigenous to Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and eastern Turkey. However, their population had significantly dwindled by the 1940s. Nowadays, the only surviving indigenous population is in the Dez Wildlife Refuge and Karkeh Wildlife Refuge in Khuzestan.

Torrential rains in the past two weeks have caused massive flooding which has affected northeastern and southwestern Iran, killing 62 people, displacing thousands of others and destroying homes in 25 provinces. Many people in the flood-stricken regions are in desperate need of food, water, medicine, tents, and blankets.

[Translated from Persian by Fardine Hamidi]