By Maryam Qarehgozlou

19 Asiatic cheetahs spotted in Iran in past 3 months: CACP director

September 19, 2017

TEHRAN — Over the past three months some 19 Asiatic cheetahs were spotted in Iran three of which were females, Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) director Houman Jowkar said on Monday.

The Asiatic cheetah mainly inhabits the desert areas around Dasht-e Kavir in the eastern half of Iran, including parts of the Kerman, Khorasan, Semnan, Yazd, Tehran, and Markazi provinces. Most live in five protected areas, Kavir National Park, Touran National Park, Bafq Protected Area, Dar-e Anjir Wildlife Refuge, and Naybandan Wildlife Reserve. The cheetah has been listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List since 1996.

According to Jowkar based on the sightings the number of remaining Asiatic cheetahs can be estimated at almost 50. However, Jowkar explained, due to the shortcomings of trap cameras installed in the protected areas and other techniques of counting cheetahs it is not easy to tell the gender composition. 

The cheetah/livestock interactions and the presence of human beings and guard dogs in cheetah’s habitats, road accidents and habitat fragmentation due to human encroachment are of the threats making the cheetah’s future uncertain.    

“Since the year 2001 some 13 road crashes resulting in the death of 19 cheetahs have occurred in roads in provinces of Semnan, Yazd and South Khorasan,” Jowkar regretted, saying that since May 2016 no records of road crashes resulting in death of cheetahs have been filed. 

Cheetahs don’t usually stay in one place and might move from one habitat to another. Mining development and road construction near reserves or between fragmented habitats also threaten the population and over the past years the unsafe roads and careless drivers have resulted in increased roadkills. 

As Jowkar said limited budget and the responsible organizations’, such as Ministry of Transport, incompetence in fencing the roads have worsened the situation as road crashes [the ones recorded by the Department of Environment] accounts for 52 percent of the cheetahs fatality rate. 

‘Cheetah forever’ campaign 

Lately, on the occasion of the National Asiatic Cheetah Day, August 31, a campaign called ‘cheetah forever’ was launched by Iranian Actress Hedieh Tehrani seeking to collect contributions to help Asiatic Cheetah conservation project. Many celebrities, actors, athletes, and environmentalist have taken part in the campaign ever since.

As Jowkar have thoroughly explained the overlapping home ranges in Touran National Park, Semnan province, have caused some livestock/cheetah conflict. The campaign is soliciting contributions from the public to help purchase some 12 home ranges in 100,000 hectares of Touran National Park within next two months to minimize the conflicts between the livestock and the wild animals as much as possible, Jowkar added. 

In addition to international funds amounting to 85,000 euros some additional 4 billion rials (about $100,000) is required to buy the rangelands from the ranchers, Jowkar stated, saying, the campaign is striving to collect the required money to protect cheetah’s habitats. 

Wildlife conservation is the attempt to protect endangered animal and plant species, along with their natural habitat. It is essential to take actions to protect wildlife from extinction. By doing so, we do not only ensure their survival, but also the diversity of the ecosystem. As a result, it will help improve the ecological health of the earth.

MQ/MG

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