Knowledge gaps regarding species distribution and abundance are great in remote regions with political instability, and they might be even larger concerning elusive and rare species. We predict the potential distribution for Hierophis andreanus, a poorly known endemic snake in the Iranian Plateau, and assess its conservation status in relation to existing protected areas. We used a maximum entropy modeling tool and Mahalanobis distance to produce an ensemble species distribution model. The most suitable habitats where located mainly in mountain ranges and adjacent areas of Iran and Afghanistan. Mean temperature and slope were the most important predictors for our models. Furthermore, just five localities for H. andreanus were inside the Iranian protected areas. A 10 km expansion from existing boundaries of protected areas in all directions would double protected localities to 10, and a 20 km buffer would result in 13 protected localities. Our findings are particularly valuable to select locations to conduct new surveys and produce a more reliable estimate of current population size to improve conservation and management for this reptile in the Irano-Anatolian region.
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