Hana Raza
Hana in the field, Kurdistan Author: Lam Duc Hien
2022

Hana Raza

Conservationist

exploring conservation in Kurdistan

meet hana

Hana Ahmed Raza was born in Iraqi Kurdistan. She joined Nature Iraq in 2009 where she established the Department of Mammals. An expert in mammal conservation, she focuses on Persian leopards, once thought extinct. She rediscovered the large cat in Iraq in 2011 and is dedicated to conserving this endangered species. Hana has been the only female Kurdish conservationist. She is a member of three IUCN specialist groups, a committee member of the Ornithological Society of the Middle East Conservation Fund, and an editorial board member of the Sandgrouse journal. Hana is a Chevening scholar and Newcastle University alumna.

exploring conservation in Kurdistan
Nominated by: Nancy Rosenthal MN'11
Class of 2022 Location Iraq
Persian Leopard on Quara Dagh Mountains
Persian Leopard on Quara Dagh Mountains Author: Hana Raza

My conservation work in Kurdistan is unique in that wildlife conservation was in its infancy and mammal conservation specifically had been unexplored. I started work with Nature Iraq, which was then the only NGO focused on conservation in Iraq.

I spearheaded the dedicated team for mammal research and pioneered the implementation of camera trapping techniques. We sought priority sites for biodiversity in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. In 2011, two years after embarking on this project, I recorded the first evidence of the Persian leopard, which had been thought extinct in Kurdistan. My team was published in the Key Biodiversity Areas of Iraq book, designating 82 sites throughout Iraq. I wrote a grant proposal to the IUCN Netherlands Land Acquisition Fund to set aside the Qara Dagh land to be managed by Nature Iraq for preservation, using the Persian leopard as the umbrella species. This project has accumulated numerous grants that have funded the entire project. Most recently, BBC Natural History has decided to include my work as part of their upcoming program, The Seven Series.

Author: Anna Bachmann

“My hope is that we lay down the academic and professional foundation for conservation and promote the spirit of conservation for future generations to serve their community and their planet for years to come.”

- Hana Raza
Author: Rosetta Rebwar

The most fulfilling aspect of my work is its enduring impact on the local community. Villagers give their time and open their homes to aid us in our efforts to protect their local wildlife. Forest rangers have given their free time to accompany us on our mountain expeditions. I have worked with local students promoting biodiversity through outdoor activities including birding, and have assisted in a teacher’s toolkit as a guide for primary school teachers to engage kids in environmental activities. These were some of my most enriching projects.

My hope is that we lay down the academic and professional foundation for conservation and promote the spirit of conservation for future generations to serve their community and their planet for years to come.

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