Wildlife in Iran includes its flora and fauna and their natural habitats. One of the most famous members of wildlife in Iran is the world’s last surviving, critically endangered Asiatic Cheetah also known as the Iranian Cheetah, which is today found nowhere else but in Iran. Iran had lost all its Asiatic Lions and the now extinct Caspian Tigers by the earlier part of the twentieth century.
Iran’s wildlife is composed of several animal species including bears, gazelles, wild pigs, wolves, jackals, panthers, Eurasian lynx, and foxes. Other domestic animals include: sheep, goats, cattle, horses, water buffalo, donkeys and camels. The pheasant, partridge, stork, eagles and falcon are also native to Iran.
The Persian leopard is said to be the largest of all the subspecies of leopards in the world. The main range of this leopard species in Iran closely overlaps with that of the Bezoar Ibex. Hence, it is found throughout Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges as well as smaller ranges within the Iranian plateau. Leopard population is very sparse, due to loss of habitat, loss of natural prey and population fragmentation. Apart from Bezoar Ibex, wild sheep, boar, deer (Maral red deer or Roe deer) and domestic animals constitute the leopards’ diet in Iran.
More than one-tenth of the country is forested. The most extensive growths are found on the mountain slopes rising from the Caspian Sea, with stands of oak, ash, elm, cypress and other valuable trees. On the plateau proper, areas of scrub oak appear on the best-watered mountain slopes and villagers cultivate orchards and grow the plane tree, poplar, willow, walnut, beech, maple, and mulberry. Wild plants and shrubs spring from the barren land in the spring and afford pasturage, but the summer sun burns them away.
The major types of forests that exist in Iran and their respective areas are:
1. Caspian forests of the northern districts (33,000 km²)
2. Limestone mountainous forests in the northeastern districts (Juniper
forests, 13,000 km²)
3. Pistachio forests in the eastern, southern and southeastern districts (26,000 km²)
4. Oak forests in the central and western districts (100,000 km²)
5. Shrubs of the Kavir (desert) districts in the central and northeastern part of the
country (10,000 km²)
6. Sub-tropical forests of the southern coast (5,000 km²) like the Hara forests.
More than 2,000 plant species are grown in Iran. The land covered by Iran’s natural flora is four times that of the Europe’s.