Aug 9, 2014, 7:06 PM
News Code: 2733651
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Lar National Park

Tehran, Aug 9, IRNA -- Lar National Park, a protected area at the foot of Mount Damavand, straddles the two provinces of Mazandaran and Tehran.

The park, with an area of around 30,000 hectares, is home to several species of fauna, including brown bear, viper, partridge, agama and red-spotted trout.

The park was announced a protected area since 1982 by the Department of Environment (DOE).

Naqi Mirza Karimi, the chief ranger of Lar National Park, told Iran Daily's Sunday edition that hunting is banned in some areas of the park since 1992.

However, he said, poachers still kill animals and this has put several species on the verge of extinction.

Karimi noted that Lar is the only national park in the world where grazing is allowed and nomads graze their sheep and cattle in it.

The ranger, however, said overgrazing has damaged the lush greenery of the park and contaminated its rivers.

"Nomads have been grazing their sheep and cattle in Lar’s green fields before it became a protected area. But now the DOE is strongly urged to find another area for them," he said.

Karimi also said the area contains more than 400 plant species, 35 of which are native to Iran.

"But grazing is threatening some species, including chamomile, astragalus, juniper and echinops."

He noted that the red-spotted trout is one of Iran's most unique aquatic animals that inhabits the country’s freshwaters, including Lar.

"Lar National Park with its cold mountainous weather, rivers and streams is a suitable breeding ground for this species," he said.

Karimi said the population of red-spotted trout has dramatically declined over the past few years due to a variety of reasons, the most significant of which are water contamination, overfishing, drought, global warming and breeding of non-native species.

"The DOE has banned the breeding of other species of trout in the park as one of the measures to protect the endangered fish," he said.

"Non-native species have reduced the population of red-spotted trout by transmitting diseases or competing for survival."

Karimi also said DOE has totally banned fishing for the current year in the park.

"Last year, some 3,000 one-day permits were issued for a period of four days, allowing tourists to go fishing in the park on Mondays and Wednesdays for just two weeks. But this year, no permits will be issued," he said.

Karimi said the park is home to toad-headed agama, an amazing small lizard.

The lizard adopts the so-called 'sit and wait' hunting strategy and actively uses visual orientation when searching for food.