Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip in January 2020 was an educational and instructive trip to visit Goitered gazelles and Urials also known as the arkars or shapo.
First Trip in January 2020
Watching wildlife was a big dream of mine. Although I had seen animals and birds in forest and nature, it wasn’t intentional. It was by chance. And if I had the chance to see one, I couldn’t recognize it. I just knew the big animals such as lion, leopard, bear and etc. which is hard to see for novice like me. Therefore, I decided to visit one of the wildlife refuge in Isfahan with a professional tour guide and group of friend of mine in order to come out of this animal-ignorance-world-of-mine as my first trip experience in the new year 2020.
Why Mouteh Wildlife Refuge?
Mouteh wildlife refuge was our target place for two reasons. First, it is close to Tehran. It takes nearly 4 hours to get to Mouteh. Second, it is the habitat of Goitered gazelles or Persian gazelles in Iran.
Let’s Hit the Road
The meeting place was Valiasr Square. We depart at 13:00 on Thursday January 2, 2020 from Tehran to Mouteh. We stuck in weekends traffic of Tehran for an hour. There is always traffic at weekends in Tehran. Shoot!
Introducing oneself on tour is a must. But, we did it in our own style; with laughter and lyrics. We had a way to spice up our Mouteh wildlife refuge trip.
Lunch Time at Arshia Rest Complex
We took Tehran-Qom Freeway, an only highway toward the south of Iran. Since we hadn’t had lunch, we stop at one of the rest complex to grab something. The complex has clean bathrooms including both Asian and Western Toilets. It has two large restaurants; a fast food and a Persian one. Click on the picture below to see the location on google map.
Amo Ghodrat Ecolodge
We resumed our trip toward Qom, the most religious city of Iran. Drive southwest to Delijan. Pass Nimvar. Drive further south to Golpayegan to get to Bomgardi Amo Ghodrat (Uncle Ghodrat Ecolodge), a cozy place to stay for a night.
Amo Ghodrat welcomed us with open arms. He is friendly and sweet. We put our stuff in the rooms. And despite the cold weather outside, we decided to spend some time together in a small alcove covered up with plastic PVC curtain. We smoked Hookah and drank tea. Ali, Masoud and Fatemeh made dinner for us while we were telling jokes and listen to music.
We got up at 6 a.m. in the morning on Friday with a shocking death news of Qasem Soleimani , the Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It was unbelievable, but it was verified by Iran national news.
Timareh or Teymare Petroglyph
After breakfast, butter and Jams, and one fried egg, we head to Timareh or Teymare Petroglyph site. There are more than 20,000 rock paintings in this area which dating back to 40,000 years ago. You could see pictures of animals and humans on the rocks.
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Ranger Base
Mr. Seliyari, the one of the top forest ranger in Iran, leaded our group to the Mouteh station building where two local rangers were waiting for us with SUV vehicles.
We came across a dead corpse of an eagle en route to base building. It seemed that the electric wire was the cause of death. The death of any animal is always a sad news to me (Sad).
Watching Goitered Gazelles in Mouteh
We parted into two groups and got on the SUVs to visit the goitered gazelles. It was cold, so we covered our heads not to catch cold.
We stopped all of the sudden. We haven’t gone too far. Mr. Seliyari got out of the car and picked up something in the middle of small bushes. It was the bloody horn of a gazelle who was recently eaten by its number one predator in the area, grey wolves.
I had no idea how many Persian gazelles I could see. But, the maximum number I had in my mind was 20 or something. But, I was wrong. What we saw there was beyond my expectation. We saw hundreds of goitered gazelles. We were so excited to watch running gazelles in such different large herds. They were running like a flash. A typical gazelle can run 97 km/h, more than lion speed 80 km/h and less than Cheetah 120 80 km/h.
Watching Urials in Mouteh
Our next target was Urials aka arkars or shapo, a subspecies group of the wild sheep in central Asia. We said goodbye to the Mouteh Park Rangers and head to mountainous area. The mountain foothills are the best place to find and see Urials.
Watching Urials is not easy. They usually keep 500 meter distance from any unknown moving objects. Only through binoculars we could see them. It was satisfying for me from far distance. I needed to see them from closer range. In order to see them better, we took steps quietly closer and closer.
After the explanation about physical features of Urials, we noiselessly climbed up the mountain and hid behind a rock. Now we were 100 meter away from them.
Being silence was mandatory. We could see them now with naked eyes. However, with binoculars it was way better.
We climbed down the hill and walked back toward minibus.
Ali, Javad and Masoud were kind enough to cook lunch for us. It was delicious.
After the watch, we got on the minibus and drove back to Tehran. The sun was setting and it was getting dark, but our hearts were enlightened with beauty of nature and awareness toward environment. Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip is over at night with happy smile.