ISIS Threatens Iraqi Wildlife

ENVIRONMENT

After decades of strife, the world’s first civilization is losing many of its animals, such as otters, deer, songbirds, and more. (Nat Geo News)

Our activity calls for students to select an issue involving human-wildlife conflict, and develop a list of actions people could take to reduce or reverse the problem. This might be a great option for students to choose.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

“Sheep and goats are regularly getting blown up,” says Sean Sutton of Mines Advisory Group, an international weapon-removal group that has cleared more than 11,000 devices in northern Iraq since late 2015. Photograph by Frank and Helen Schreider, National Geographic

“Sheep and goats are regularly getting blown up,” says Sean Sutton of Mines Advisory Group, an international weapon-removal group that has cleared more than 11,000 devices in northern Iraq since late 2015.
Photograph by Frank and Helen Schreider, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • Iraq has endured 40 years of nearly uninterrupted conflict. How have military combatants put the country’s wildlife at risk?
    • Domestic animals, such as horses, have been used for target practice.
    • Military leaders have burned forests and drained wetlands in order to eliminate possible enemy hideouts.
    • Entire populations of wild goat and wolves were whittled down to almost nothing by shellfire.”
    • Trench networks have radically disrupted migration corridors for many species.
    • Land mines maim and kill domestic animals as well as wild species.
    • Retreating forces have dumped barrels of oil into wetlands in order to prevent their enemies from accessing these resources for fuel or profit.

 

  • How are civilians putting Iraq’s wildlife at risk?
    • “[A]mid a partial breakdown in civil society over the past decade, illegal hunting has also proliferated … Some impoverished residents of the Euphrates and Tigris valleys have taken to shooting protected bird species, hoping to supplement their diets at a time of economic hardship.”
    • “For others, however, state paralysis has provided a welcome opportunity for unregulated sport, including trapping rabbits and shooting vultures. With entertainment limited in rural Iraq, many men are going hunting … ‘Everyone here has a gun, and when you have a gun, you shoot,’ says Ibrahim Hassan Al-Haramoozi, a tribal sheikh in rural Kirkuk Province.”

 

  • What species have military and civilian forces put at risk in Iraq? Scroll through this photo gallery from the good folks at Nature Iraq for some help.
    • The article mentions a “half-dozen types of cat, an impressive array of falcons, and several hundred species of fish.”
    • Iraq’s tiny population of endangered Persian fallow deer are now regionally extinct and only survive in the wild in Iran and Israel.
    • Wetland drainage devastated ecosystems associated with nothing less than the Garden of Eden—“otters, pelicans, striped hyenas, and river dolphins vanished, in most instances never to return.”
    • The hunting of marbled ducks (mostly for food) has made the population a vulnerable species.
    • goats, wolves, boars, rabbits, vultures, partridges, gazelles, turtles, mongooses, bats …

 

An endangered Persian leopard traverses the rocky foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. Photograph courtesy Max Pixel. CC-0

An endangered Persian leopard traverses the rocky foothills of the Caucasus Mountains.
Photograph courtesy Max Pixel. CC-0

 

  • Groups like Nature Iraq have made it their mission to “protect, restore, and preserve the environment.” Is the situation improving for Iraq’s wildlife?

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

Nat Geo: Iraq’s Unique Wildlife Pushed to Brink by War, Hunting

Nat Geo: Protecting Earth’s Wildlife activity

Nature Iraq

2 responses to “ISIS Threatens Iraqi Wildlife

  1. Pingback: Everything We Do Affects All – Kaz's Homemade Tips·

  2. And their children will suffer the most from this what a shame that people can not see how they cut off their own noses to spite their face

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