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3 Iranian rangers killed by poachers in 48 hours

After three Iranian rangers were killed by poachers in 48 hours, some Iranians are asking if the law is doing enough to protect them.

The news of Iranian rangers who were reportedly killed by poachers has flooded Iranian social media pages in the last few days. In a span of 48 hours, two rangers were killed in Hormozgan province in southern Iran in the Geno Biosphere Reserve, a protected area by the Iranian Department of Environment since 1976. Another ranger was killed in Bamou National Park in Fars province.

Manouchehr Shojaei, who was killed in Bamou, was reportedly shot in the chest and thrown off a cliff on June 25, according to Arman Daily newspaper. He was transferred to a hospital in Shiraz where he died. The bloodied picture of Shojaei circulated widely on Iranian websites and social media. The environmental director for Fars province said that Shojaei was not armed during the confrontation and that his killing was “nothing but wickedness.”

According to Iranian officials, two hunters carrying unlicensed firearms were apprehended in the area. Bamou National Park is home to many deer, wild sheep and wild goats, and has been protected for more than 40 years.

Masoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Iran’s Environmental Protection Organization, read President Hassan Rouhani’s condolence letter at the funerals of Mohammad Dehghani and Parviz Hormozi, the two rangers who were killed in Hormozgan. The statement read that Iran’s rangers are at the “front line of protection of Iran’s national resources.”

The job of a ranger is often seen as a thankless job and one only undertaken by those passionate about animal rights and preservation. Not only are they responsible for the preservation of wildlife, but also for the protection of the natural habitat. In the past when rangers have confronted poachers, they have faced legal consequences. Shargh Daily newspaper wrote that it was just four months ago that two rangers were released from prison after serving seven years for killing a poacher. The rangers were originally sentenced to death.

Some rangers have resorted to recording confrontations with poachers on their cellphones in order to avoid legal ramifications. In a dramatic video uploaded to YouTube last year, Iranian rangers are seen shooting warning shots at a poacher who aims his rifle at them. The poacher is then seeing fleeing on foot.

Shargh wrote, “Many are asking why rangers are in this situation. If they kill illegal hunters they are sentenced to death. If they do not kill them, they are condemned to the same fate as the three rangers in Fars and Hormozgan provinces.” In the interview with Shargh, Ebtekar said that Iran’s rangers are bound to specific laws stipulating when an armed official is allowed to use his weapon. She also said that the three rangers were declared martyrs by the Iranian government, and their families would receive the full benefits that are provided to the families of martyrs.

Ebtekar told Shargh that since the Department of Environment was founded in 1956, 119 rangers have been killed in the line of duty.

Mohammad Reza Tabesh, the head of parliament’s Environmental Commission, said that the killings show that rangers should be equipped with modern tools and should have the full protection of the law. Tabesh said he hopes parliament and the administration would show more seriousness in reforming laws to protect rangers.

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