$4m earmarked for Asiatic cheetah conservation

February 13, 2019

TEHRAN – A total budget of $4 million will be allocated to prevent the remaining precious species of Asiatic cheetah from extinction, through a five-year plan, deputy environment chief for Department of Environment (DOE) natural environment and biodiversity directorate has announced.

The budget will be earmarked by the DOE, United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and environmentally conscious NGOs, ISNA quoted Hamid Zohrabi as saying on Wednesday. 

In addition to the five-year plan to conserve the cheetahs in natural habitat, the DOE has considered using artificial insemination as an option to breed the endangered species, he said, adding, captive breeding of the cheetahs will be conducted in cooperation with the international experts.

Among the captive breeding methods, gestational surrogacy is also taken into consideration which will use an African cheetah as gestational carrier, he added.

Herding dogs threat to cheetahs to be sent away
Zohrabi referring to herding dogs as a threat to the Asiatic cheetah’s future, noted that we decided to send away the herding dogs and livestock from the cheetah’s habitat.

So far, some 75 percent of the herding dogs have been sent out of the protected areas known as cheetah habitat, he highlighted, adding that it is planned to replace herding dogs with breeds which protect the livestock while they do not hurt the cheetahs.

To enhance protection, the protected areas will be expanded as some cheetahs are inhabiting out of the areas defined as protected areas supervised by DOE, he stated.

Supervising migration corridors

Moreover, building under passages for cheetahs crossing beneath highways while being safe from road accidents, is being coordinated with the Ministry of Roads & Urban Development, he added.

He went on to say that only 40 percent of the cheetahs are inhabiting in protected areas, so we identified the cheetah’s migration corridors and habitats not being supervised by the DOE, and the whole areas will go under the organization’s supervision.

So, current 6 million hectares of Asiatic cheetahs’ habitat in the country will increase to 11 million hectares, he highlighted.

Listed as critically endangered by the IUCN, the Asiatic cheetah is among the rarest cats in the world at subspecies level, with fewer than 50 believed to remain in Iran.

Roads fragmenting cheetahs’ habitats are the main threats for the species, while guard dogs and stray dogs, drought spells, decreasing population of the prey species to support the cheetahs, and habitat loss are also other factors endangering the sparse population of the cheetahs in the country.

For one Abbasabad-Mayami road, linking north-central Semnan province to Mashhad, northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi, in one of the deadliest roads for Asiatic cheetahs as 8 cheetahs have been killed in this area over the past 10 years, he lamented.

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