Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip

Mouteh Widllife Refuge Trip

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!

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Trip
Meeting Place – Valiasr Sqaure, Tehran (Click on the photo to see the entire route)
The seven beauties - ebrahim Barzegar
Mr. Seliyari ( The Park Ranger) & Mrs. Jalilian (Tour arranger)

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.

Trip to Mouteh
Last row from left to Right (Ali, Yazdan, Parsia, Rahil) / Second row from left to right (Saeed, Radin, Masoud, Javad) / Third row from left to right ( Fatemeh, Setareh, Hamid) / First person on the left (Erfan)

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.

Arshia Rest Complex - Tehran Qom Freeway
Arshia Rest Complex – Tehran Qom Freeway

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.

Amo Ghodarat Ecolodge
Hot Tea in Amo Ghodarat Ecolodge.

Shocking News

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.

Amo Ghodrat Ecolodge Golpayegan
Amo Ghodrat Ecolodge in Golpayegan. Click on the photo to see the location on google map.

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.

Teymare Petroglyph
Teymare Petroglyph, dating back to 40,000 Years ago

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.

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Ranger Base
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Ranger Base

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).

Eagle in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Dead Eagle in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge

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.

Mouteh Ranger Base
Javad, the future Ranger

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.  

Gazelle in Mouteh
Mr. Saliyar is picking up the bloody Horn of a Gazelle eaten by 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.

Goitered Gazelles Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Goitered Gazelles Mouteh Wildlife Refuge -Photo by Yazdan

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.  

Urials in Mouteh, Isfahan
Urials at foothill at Mouteh Refuge

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.

Mr. Saliyari, Iran park Ranger
Mr.Salyari is explaining the physical features of Urials

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.

Watching Urials in Mouteh
Watching Urials at 100 meter away

Being silence was mandatory. We could see them now with naked eyes. However, with binoculars it was way better.

Mouteh Wildlife Tour
Fatemeh, behind the rock watching Urials – Photo by Yazdan Bakhsh
Wildlife Photography
Urials in Mouteh. Photo by Yazdan Bakhsh

We climbed down the hill and walked back toward minibus.

Bahram Gur in Mouteh
Bahram Gur in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Yazdan Bakhsh

Ali, Javad and Masoud were kind enough to cook lunch for us. It was delicious.

The Seven beauties
Lunch at Mouteh with awesome friends

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.

Mouteh Tour
End of Mouteh Tour at Valiasr Square
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Mouteh Wildlife Refuge

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge is located in Mouteh village in northwest of Isfahan. Mouteh Wildlife Refuge is a home of Goitered gazelle in Iran.

Mouteh wildlife refuge covers a vast area including mountains, hills, meadows and plains. The highest altitude of the region is about 3000 meters and the shortest is about 1500 meters above sea level. The difference between the highest and lowest altitude and the diversity in geographical features makes Mouteh a special habitat for plants and animals.

Goitered gazelle
Goitered gazelle

Mouteh Climate

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge, although situated in Iran plateau, has a cold or semi-arid climate. The average minimum and maximum temperatures over a 25-year period are -8.5 and 30.8 degrees Celsius, respectively. The absolute minimum and maximum temperatures during the same period are -29.4 and 37.4 degrees Celsius, respectively. Yet, the average annual rainfall is 249.16 mm and maximum is 336.12 and minimum is 195.77 mm. However, 45.05 percent of the rainfall falls during the winter months.

Mouteh Refuge
Man-made Water pool in Mouteh

Vegetation and Plant Life

Mouteh as a part of Irano-Turanian region has 478 plant species belonging to 240 genera and 53 families. You can find shrubs such as Artemisia, Astragalus, Alhagi, Prangos, Prunus scoparia , Pistacia terebinthus and Acantholimon.

Animals in Mouteh

There are 25 mammal species, 88 bird species, 25 reptile species and one amphibian species have been identified and recorded in this area.

Mammals

Urial also known as the arkars or shapo, Wild goat, leopard, Sand cat, Pallas’s cat, fox, Wolf, hyenas, jackals, Pika, Porcupine, Gerbil etc. The most important feature of Mouteh Wildlife Refuge is goitered or black-tailed gazelle.

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Urial also known as the arkars or shapo
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Herd of Boars in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Hedgehog at night

Birds

Iran is rich in term of Birds. But, Mouteh is limited birdwise. Despite its arid region, Mouteh is a home to 5 species of birds belonging to 2 genera and 2 families have been identified so far. Golden eagle, Falcon, Eurasian hoopoe, Partridge and Bustard are some of the birds you can see in this area.

Owl in Iran
Owl in Mouteh
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge
Eagle in Mouteh Wildlife Refuge

Reptiles

So far, 5 species of reptiles belonging to 1 genus and 3 families have been identified in Mouteh: Desert monitor, Rough-tailed Gecko, Agamas, royal snake, False cobra, and Macrovipera lebetina, etc.

Snake in mouteh
Snake in Mouteh
Agamas - Iran Wildlife
Agamas – Iran Wildlife

Where is Mouteh Wildlife Refuge?

It is at a joint border of Markazi Province and Isfahan Province. This wildlife refuge, nearly 205 thousand hectors, is surrounded by several villages.

  • North: Delijan, Nimvar and AtashKooh Village with its Sassanid Fire Temple (AtashKooh Fire Temple)
  • Northeast: Rabat-e Tork and Hastijan along the Isfahan-Tehran highway
  • Northwest: Gol Cheshmeh and Yekeh Chah villages
  • East: Varkan Village
  • West: Golpayegan and Golshahr
  • South: Laybid village, Hasanrobat and Lushab

How to get Mouteh Wildlife Refuge?

Drive south from Tehran. There two ways to get there from Tehran. First route: Take Tehran-Qom Highway. When you get to Qom, drive westward toward Salafchegan. Then drive south to Delijan. Second route:  Take Tehran-Saveh Highway. Pass Saveh and continue your drive toward Salafchegan and Delijan.

Once you are in Delijan, you can take one of the following route;

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Map
Mouteh Wildlife Refuge map

Green Route: Drive from Delijan toward southwest. Pass Nimvar to get to Khomein. Next, drive south to Golpayegan. Next, take the Red Route to the Wildlife Refuge.

Blue Route: If you are driving to Mouteh from Isfahan, pass Shahin Shahr. Drive toward northwest to Golpayegan. Next, take the Red Route to the Wildlife Refuge.

Mouteh Wildlife Refuge Permission

This area was first introduced and registered by the Supreme Council of Hunting and Hunting in 1968. However, in 1990 it was officially turned into the Wildlife Refuge. Isfahan Department of Environment is in charge of it now. If you want to acquire Mouteh entrance permission, you have to contact Isfahan Department of Environment. You can contact me to get the Permission.

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