environment / iran

The Cheetah in Iran

2012-11-07-7740_Naybandanhq_compressedCheetahs mostly live in savannah of Africa, but Iran is the only place in the world where the cheetahs can be seen in snow covered deserts in winter.

In an incredible feat of adaptability, in hyper-arid areas where summer temperature exceed 50C, these cheetahs can tolerate freezing temperatures during winter. Aside from their breath-taking beauty and their unparalleled speed, Iranian Cheetahs are thus amazingly adaptable creatures. Therefore it is sad news to report that in the Iranian mountains more and more of them are mowed down by cars.  In Turan, Bafq and other fig valley areas where roads are being built into their natural habitat, around 27 have been reported as killed by human caused accidents in the past decade, not to mention unreported incidents. According to the book The Complete Fauna of Iran by Eskandar Firouz

It does not hunt by sudden ambush or in the dead of night, but stalks by daylight and relies on sheer speed to capture prey. […] The cheetah is easily tamed and was once trained and used for hunting.  It can reach a speed of over 100kph (62mph) making it the fastest mammal in the world. […] A fall in numbers is suggested at 85-90% since the mid-1970 when the highest estimates were about 300-400 individuals. The Persian cheetah is the only population of this species that is left in Asia and it is in critical danger of becoming extinct, unless stronger protective measures are adopted by the Department of the Environment.

The book, previously our of print but now back (at least for the moment) is published by I.B Taurus, and is a rather lush and appreciable hardback, worthy to grace any coffee table.

There are several groups in Iran working to support the preservation of such wildlife, namely the Iranian Cheetah Society who are working with the UN Department Programme in Iran (video below). If you would like to help preserve these majestic animals, consider donating any amount to the Wildlife Conservation Society who are working in Iran and have reported thus:

In Iran, where many prey species have disappeared, just about 60 Asiatic cheetahs remain. To promote their survival, an international team of scientists—led by WCS and the Panthera Foundation—is working with Iran’s Department of the Environment. The researchers have radio-collared two male Asiatic cheetahs in the Bafgh Protected Area in the southwestern part of the central Iranian plateau, marking the first time these big cats have been tracked by conservationists.