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Jwan Othman

Jwan Othman

An investigation in to the cultural-political issues surrounding deer conservation in Kurdistan-Iraq


Discipline/professional area
Natural and Built Environment

Outline of research project

The historic record suggests that deer were once common in Kurdistan. However, recent records suggest that they have declined significantly in numbers and are now recorded as existing in only limited areas of Kurdistan. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources listed deer species in the red list for threatened, vulnerable species at high risk for extinction in the wild. This decline has been attributed to several factors including changes in agricultural practises, deforestation and increases in hunting pressures. The situation is made worse by the wars and social upheaval that the region has experienced in recent decades.

There is now an urgent need to implement measures to conserve the remaining deer population in Kurdistan. While some measures have been put in place the evidence suggests that these have not been effective. It is suggested that some of the reasons for the failure of these measures are cultural. Laws have been imposed on the areas that do not recognise the needs and interests of local people. Additionally social changes that have resulted from the wars in the region mean that cultural ties with the land have been lost and new practices have moved in.

This study will investigate approaches to wildlife conservation that have been implemented elsewhere, paying particular attention to those which have been adapted to meet the needs and cultural practices of the local population. These will be used to develop a model for developing wildlife protection policies and legislation that could then be adapted for implementation in Kurdistan.

In order to understand local perceptions and practices around wildlife conservation data has been collected for the Kurdistan. This took the form of questionnaires completed by the local people and interviews with governmental and non-governmental bodies involved in wildlife conservation.

The contribution of this research lies in the approach adopted to investigate the overall effect of social, cultural, and political factors on deer conservation plans. There are no previous studies about this subject in Kurdistan. These approaches could be valuable in other areas where human factors are a significant threat to the persistence of large ungulates.

Key references

DONGOL, Y. and Heinen, J. (2012). Pitfalls of CITES Implementation in Nepal: A Policy Gap Analysis. Environmental Management 50:181–190

DUDLEY, J. P. et al. (2002). Effects of war and civil strife on wildlife and wildlife habitats. Conservation biology, 16 (2), 319-329.

FURZE, B., DE LACY, T. and BIRCKHEAD, J. (1996). Culture, Conservation and Biodiversity- Social Dimension of Linking Local Level Development and Conservation through Protected Areas. England, John Wiley and Sons.

HATT, R.T. (1959). The mammals of Iraq. USA, Miscellaneous Publications.

IUCN (1992). Protected areas of the world: A review of national systems, vol. 2. Palaearctic. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

KING, A. D. (2003). Without deer there is no culture, nothing. Anthropology and humanism, 27 (2), 133-164.

RAO, M. et al. (2011). Hunting for a Living: Wildlife Trade, Rural Livelihoods and Declining Wildlife in the Hkakaborazi National Park, North Myanmar. Environmental Management, 48, 158–167.

VAN BUREN, E. (1939). The fauna of ancient Mesopotamia as represented in art. Italy, Pontificium institutum biblicum.

WERMMER, C. (ed). (1998). Deer. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Deer Specialist Group. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Director of studies
Dr John Rose

Dr Douglas Fraser

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