According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2012), Wild Goats (Capra aegagrus) are considered vulnerable (VU) and their population is decreasing globally. As for Iraq, and based on the IUCN Red List (Weinberg et al, 20082 ), surveys are needed to determine firstly whether any populations of Wild Goat remain in Iraq and, if so, their status and distribution. According to Nature Iraq field surveys and local interviews conducted between 2007 to 20103 , Wild Goats are present in different areas of the Zagros range, but their population in these areas is under threat of decline and increased fragmentation due to uncontrolled hunting, logging and general habitat loss. As very little work on mammal conservation has taken place in Iraq in over 25 years due to war and sanctions, this project will be part of new conservation planning to protect wildlife in Iraq. Two sites were selected for this project, which are Qara Dagh and Permagroon Mountains (respectively 35km southwest and 20km northwest of Sulaimani city, to the northeast of Iraq). Both of the project sites have been proposed as a protected area by Nature Iraq. They are located within the Zagros Mountain Forest Steppe eco-region, which is a critically threatened eco-region. These areas are very important due to the richness of its flora and fauna. This project was funded by the Conservation Leadership Programme (CLP) and conducted by young conservationists from Nature Iraq who carried out the technical and logistical work. In addition, Nature Iraq CLP team conducted awareness and educational campaigns through media, social networks, scientific journals and newsletters, and visits and interacting with local communities and schools. The Kurdistan Commission of the EnvironmentKurdistan Regional Government Environmental Protection & Improvement Board was involved through facilitating the field work by issuing required permits. Also the Forestry Police had a significant role to guide the team during the field surveys and participate In the advocacy campaigns. Other institutions like the Independent Media Centre Kurdistan (IMCK) and the Iraq Upper Tigris Water keeper helped in the outreach development and educational campaigns.
Our thanks go to the Conservation Leadership Programme fund for helping us to initiate a project on wild goat conservation in Iraq. We would like to thank the members of the Nature Iraq team who have been dedicated for making this project a great success. We would also like to thank Amir Hussein Khaleghi of the Plan4Land Society in Iran for providing advice. Special thanks go to the forestry police, who have been very helpful in our survey trips to the area, for their efforts to control the hunting pressure in this area. We also acknowledge IDEA WILD for donating six camera traps, and Anna Bachmann and James Wudel for editing.
The Nature Iraq Conservation Leadership Program (CLP) team initiated work on the globally vulnerable Wild Goat (Capra aegagrus) in two mountainous areas in Sulaimani Governorate of Kurdistan, northern Iraq: Qara Dagh and Peramagroon. Originally, the team intended to conduct research in the Barzan area, but because of security issues on the borders, the team substituted Qara Dagh for Barzan, which was approved by the CLP. The goal of the project has been to protect this species through conservation field research and education and advocacy based on the results of the survey efforts. The CLP team participated in a 6-day training on the Wild Goat survey methodologies as well as field outreach techniques. The team conducted winter and summer surveys in both sites and reported on the survey findings to local media and international conservation organizations. In addition, the team engaged in meetings and gatherings with local communities and stakeholders, distributing education posters and flyers with a conservation focus in and around both study areas. The CLP team was able to introduce wildlife and conservation work for the first time to the local communities, which established a base for future conservation works in these areas.