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Zoo works on project to protect endangered snake in Iran

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Plzen, West Bohemia, Aug 12 (CTK) – Experts from the Plzen Zoo participate in a five-year project to protect a critically endangered Latifi’s viper which only lives in a small area in the upper Lar River Basin in the Central Alborz Mountains in northern Iran, the zoo’s breeder Jan Dohnal has told CTK.

He said the Czechs cooperate with the Tehran Pars Herpetologists Institute and the locals.

“In 2019, I would like to fully hand the project to the Iranians,” Dohnal said.

In addition to securing money, he is also looking for volunteers, or guides and guards in the Lar basin, which is situated at an altitude of up to 2900 metres above sea level and creates a barrier between two climatic and geobotanical regions.

“There were two of us first, now there are 90 of us,” Dohnal said.

According to the official estimate of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), about adults live in the basin, but Dohnal says the number is higher.

Yet, the number is not high because the environment is in a very bad condition. It is situated close to large agglomerations such as Tehran and shepherding also plays a role. Besides, snakes are hunted for serum.

The project is financed by the Plzen Zoo from collections, the Stockholm Herpetological Association and the Viper Specialists Group.

Dohnal said a similar project has been implemented by experts from the Saint Louis Zoo in Armenia. They closely cooperate with one another.

He said there are more endangered poisonous snakes in the world. In Europe nature protection is quite successful, but few experts want to go to the Middle East.

“This is so only because people lack information…But in fact, people there are fine, they are excellent friends and they are intelligent. And Iran is one of the safest and calmest countries I have visited,” Dohnal said.

He said the protection rests in the preservation of habitats nd leaving the animals without people’s interference.

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