Report: ‘Reem deer’ in Al-Ahwaz region face extinction
By Rahim Hamid
The Reem deer, also known as Arabian gazelles, which are native to the Umm Dibs area to the west of the Ahwazi regional capital, Ahwaz, are in danger of extinction in the area due to dozens drowning in the irrigation canals running through the region.
Despite being warned about this risk to the already endangered species, Iranian environmental and wildlife organisations have taken no action to protect the remaining Reem deer in the area.
Photos of the drowned deer have been circulating extensively among Ahwazi Arab netizens on social media in recent days, showing tragic images of an entire herd of the graceful creatures who were unable to escape the waters of the irrigation canal in the Umm Dibs area after falling in recently.
In the early 1980s, more than 1,500 of the gazelles grazed the lands in the region, but many were killed by stray gunfire in the Iraq-Iran war of 1980-88, while a large number of the remaining deer have subsequently been illegally hunted for sport by senior Iranian army and Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders, according to Ahwazi Arab local eyewitnesses, leaving the species in real danger of extinction.
Ahwazi environmental experts estimate the current total numbers of Reem deer in the region at 200, with the figures continuing to fall due to hunting and drowning, warning that unless state organisations take immediate action to protect the species, it is in serious danger of extinction.
So far in 2015 alone, at least 25 of the gazelles have died as a result of drowning in the local stretch of the 107-kilometer irrigation canal which runs from the dam on the Karkheh River, passing through Umm Dib.
Local experts say that the creation of the irrigation channels by the Iranian regime around 14 years ago led to the deer being cut off from their main pastures on the other side, leading many to make dangerous attempt to cross, during which countless numbers have drowned. The irrigation channels were created by the regime to irrigate the agricultural lands forcibly seized by the regime from Ahwazi farmers in the west of the region
The experts further stated that they had received confirmation that 25 of the endangered deer had fled to Iraq, where they were either hunted for sport or killed for food by other predatory species.
A number of Ahwazi environmentalists and other activists have spoken out about the tragedy of the native species standing on the brink of extinction, with one of them, political activist Fakher Morammadi, recently publishing an article entitled ‘Who Is Responsible for the Elimination of This Cultural and Environmental Heritage, and Why Is This Great and Treasured Rare Deer Dying Out With No Action Being Taken To Date?’
The rapid disappearance of the Reem deer from the Ahwaz region has prompted many such questions among the region’s people.
It seems clear that the occupying Iranian regime is consciously targeting everything symbolising the Ahwaz region’s distinctive Arab identity, whether human or other species. The Iranian regime is sparing no effort to annihilate the Ahwaz region culturally, historically and environmentally, and to crush all the unique features that distinguish it from the Persian state, with even the region’s wildlife threatened with extinction by this political barbarism.
By Rahim Hamid