Friday, June 27, 2014

Asiatic Cheetahs in Iran are Unique but Neglected by Iranian Authorities

We are told that only a "few dozen" Asiatic cheetahs remain in Iran. A forgotten species of wild cat; sidelined by political confrontations. These are the big issues for humankind -- shame that very late in the day the Iranian authorities are making a last ditch effort to save the Asiatic cheetah in Iran. It is probably too late because the population size is arguably too small to achieve sufficient genetic diversity to ensure that inbreeding is avoided. Inbreeding results in infertility which in turn further diminishes the chances of survival - a downward spiral (see Siberian tiger habitat).

Iran's World Cup football team were involved in cheetah conservation.

There used to be about 400 Asiatic cheetahs in Iran as recently as the 1990s, we are told (I am not sure about that to be honest) but numbers have plunged to an "estimated" (estimates are often optimistic) 50-70 individuals. The cause is the usual suspects: poaching, hunting the cheetah's prey and reducing it to the point where the cheetah can no longer survive together with loss of habitat due to human expansion and activity.

Additional reasons for cheetah loses are: being hit by cars when crossing roads and attacks by sheep dogs (farmers occupy cheetah territory).

Apparently the Iranian government see financial profit in ensuring the survival of the cheetah. Well, yes, but it is a bit late, isn't it?

With United Nations assistance cheetahs are being more carefully monitored by fitting GPS collars so they can be tracked. Also, the authorities seem to adopting a similar approach to conservation to that of the Snow Leopard Trust; getting the local people involved and committed to conservation while compensating farmers for the loss of livestock due to cheetah attacks to avoid retaliation by famers.

Gary Lewis of the U.N. Development Program says:
"There are no other Asiatic cheetahs like the one that you have here in Iran..."
Therefore it is vital to save them form extinction in the wild in Iran. Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar who is in charge of Iran's Department of the Environment says,
...we are working very seriously with international organizations as well as our national specialists and experts to protect this species."
Iran has used the football World Cup to promote the campaign to save the cheetah in Iran. There are images of the cheetah on their kit.

Source: Fox News

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