Iran celebrates 2nd Asiatic Cheetah Festival

August 29, 2016

TEHRAN — The second wildlife friendly Asiatic Cheetah Festival was celebrated in close proximity to Touran Biosphere Reserve, Semnan province, on August 25 by Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

Villagers of Ahmad-abad, Ghale-bala, Reza-abad and Khij kalat along with the team members of the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP), The General administration of Environment of Semnan and some of prominent figures such as actor Hedieh Tehrani and TV chef Saman Golriz collaborated with Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation in holding this environmental basin festival.

Festivals are not a modern day invention and the roots of the celebratory gathering in Iran go as far back as our Pre-Islamic Zoroastrian era. Unfortunately, with so many pre-packaged products and high-voltage effects, festivals have become known for being relatively anti-environment. But environmental festivals have a different story.

The most important case for celebrating environmental festivals is upgrading green efforts and that’s why environmental foundations such as Persian Wildlife Heritage focus on making headway in the field of green.

The environmental festivals in Iran are taking steps with the aim of slowing the damage to our environment and wildlife heritage. To combat these issues, more festivals are focusing on being green. The eco-friendly festivals such as Asiatic Cheetah Festival of Touran being honored with many environmental initiatives. Honoring old rangers of Touran Biosphere, unveiling cheetah stamp by project manager of (CACP) Hooman Jowkar urges attendees to bring local people and even all Iranians to further attempts for conservation of Asiatic cheetah.

The Asiatic Cheetah is well known for its lean body, great speed, and spotted coat. Years of persecution have made it one of the world’s most vulnerable big cats. The cheetah’s heyday lasted until the last ice age; since then human populations have exploded, and the cheetah’s range and numbers have shrunk. In their ancestral homeland of the Middle East the Asian subspecies of cheetah is critically endangered, with very few, if any, animals left in remote parts of Iran such as Touran Biosphere Reserve. The situation is only slightly better in Africa whilst just over 50 of Asiatic Cheetah left in Iran.

Touran Biosphere Reserve covers area 1,464,992 hectares. The Reserve presents a variety of habitats, including three extensive plains at different altitudes, varying from 700 to 1400 square meters, a saline river system, three mountain systems rising to a maximum of 2,200 meters and 200,000 hectares of sand including moving dunes, and a vast expanse of barren playa.

This area was first established as a Protected Region in 1976, but because of importance of the area in having a high endemic plant species and large mammals especially presence of Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus), Wild Cat (Felis catus), Sand Cat (F. margarita), Goitred Gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa), Jebeer Gazelle (G. dorcas) and Onager (Equus hemionus) was listed as a Biosphere Reserve by Man and Biosphere Program (MAB) since 1977. This area is also gifted with a rich variety of endemic flora like Astragatus, Eremoschys, and Hyoscamoides.

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