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Poachers to Rangers in the Masjed Mountain

Current initiative


Lut Desert, Kerman, Iran

Lut Desert, Kerman, Iran (Photo "IMG_2458 Lut, Iran" by Ninara is licensed under CC BY 2.0)

A group of locally employed rangers patrol the Masjed protected area in central Iran to reduce poaching. These rangers are unarmed and used to be poachers themselves. Their presence has led to increases in a number of species including wild goats and sheep.


The 55,000-acre Masjed protected area is located in central Iran, near the country’s two largest deserts, Lut and Dasht-e Kavir. It is home to wild sheep, goats, boars, and chukar partridges, providing a natural corridor for the area’s migratory species.

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected Ungulates

Overview of the problem

Poachers target rams, goats, and other wildlife to sell the meat as a source of income. Species are also poached for trophies and bragging rights.

The anti-IWT initiative

Eight ex-poachers, now rangers, patrol the Masjed protected area. They are employed by a local factory owner who manages the area.

The strategy

Strengthening disincentives for illegal behaviour

Paid in money community scouts
Raising community awareness about wildlife crime penalties and sanctions

Has the initiative made a difference?

In the five years the rangers have been patrolling, numbers of wild goats and sheep have grown from 100 to almost 2,000.

Organisers, donors and partners

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