I have always hunted with the proper permits, and used the meat to feed my family. I don’t sell any of this game - you can’t really make a living in Iran from hunting, unless you become a poacher and sell specific species that are illegal to hunt, like tigers, eagles, etc. I mostly hunted partridges, hares, wood pigeons and a few other local birds. But even then, I realize now that what I did was damaging to our local wildlife. There are hardly any partridges left in this area. The nearby mountains used to be full of wild goats, but now there are only a dozen left. There also used to be a beautiful bird called the Sandgrouse, which nested all over the mountains, but nobody has seen them in 15 years.
In order to go hunting, you must first apply for a gun permit, then for a hunting license. There was a time when there were only about a dozen of us hunters in the area. But in the past few years, the authorities have been issuing gun permits and hunting licenses very easily. Today, there are many irresponsible hunters. They kill female gray partridges, even though they give birth to 20 chicks a year, and go hunting during mating season. It should be common sense not to do this!
A hunter lets a captive partridge go free.
There are also people who obtain gun licenses but don’t even bother to get hunting licenses, and kill whatever they come across – including foxes, wolves and tigers, even though all these are on the verge of extinction. There is a region in the Bamo mountains, near the border with Iraq, where there are many wild animal herds left. Few people go there, because there are lots of unexploded mines left over from the war with Iraq. But even there, unscrupulous hunters have started to kill animals.
Hunters gathering up their bird cages before burning them.
“Gun permits should be revoked”
If you abide by the rules, hunting permits – which cost 500,000 rials [about 14 euros] and are valid for three months – only allow you to kill three partridges or three wood pigeons on Thursdays and Fridays. Beyond that, you have to pay a fine. If you are arrested with a partridge that you shouldn’t have, you will be fined 700,000 rial [about 20 euros] per bird and you will face a one-month jail sentence. If it’s an eagle, it’s much worse – the fine is 18 million rial [about 500 euros] and a three-month jail sentence. However, there are not enough forest rangers to effectively put a stop to illegal hunting.