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Iranian cheetahs near total extinction

The Asiatic Cheetah is endangered species with only a few left in Iran and nowhere else in the World. Iran is trying to conserve this handful through different ways. We Humans are taking different species near extinction with our actions everyday, and one of these subspecies that is critically endangered is the Asiatic cheetah. Once found from southwest and central Asia to India, the world's last few are now only in Iran, and because of that it is also known as the Iranian Cheetah. During British colonial times in India it was held in captivity and used for hunting, the ones in captivity never reproduced and this led to their extinction in India. The same happened in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Iran wasn't sure of this animal as it wasn't spotted in years, until a picture surfaced in the 1980s and another event when locals attacked several cubs and the mother. One cub survived and was put in captivity. Since then these two events led to conservations efforts in Iran. Iran marks a day for this cheetah on the Red list every year. Various events are held to raise awareness of its existence and help honor those working in conserving this animal. "The Iranian cheetah society started its work over a decade a go, at that time much information didn't exist on the Iranian cheetah. The main problem was that people couldn't differentiate the cheetah, and they didn't know it is no danger to their herds. The first step we did was to inform the locals of this endangered animal and its importance and then to the general public," Morteza Eslami, CEO of the Iranian Cheetah Society said. Iran considers the Cheetah an important part of its natural and cultural heritage and it has now become a symbol of the country's conservation efforts. Iran's Department of the Environment has created a comprehensive conservation program with various international groups and still invites experts from around the world towards this goal. "We cannot consider environmental issues as national issues, these are global issues, they deal with the global environment, biodiversity is a global issue, therefore we need to take a global approach; to invite advisors, scholars, experts from different parts of the world. Those who have had experiences and challenges similar to the what we have in Iran, we have to invite them to come and help us." Masoumeh Ebtekar, the head of Iran's Department of Environment said. Through these projects, researchers are protecting the last remaining Iranian Cheetahs, their prey base and their natural habitats by mitigating direct threats facing Cheetahs and their prey. Law enforcement officials are utilizing camera traps and radio-collars to collect critical data on the ecology of Cheetahs; and working with local communities to improve attitudes towards the cats. "I have served as a ranger for 5 years, the most danger the Iranian cheetah faces is humans, we humans destroy their habitat and this leads to their extinction. From construction works, road accidents and hunting their prey and the animal itself we're endangering this animal, Ahmad Safarzadeh, a Park Ranger said. However the number of these rangers is 16 times lower than required. Hassan Pourrezvan, another ranger told us why he became a ranger, "As I was a local living close to the habitat of the cheetahs, and I liked preserving the environment and the animals in it, seeing the hunters and the dangers these animals faced every day, made me become a ranger. It's been two years and I enjoy my work because I like to save the environment and especially the Iranian Cheetah." Despite all this only 40-70 of these precious cats exist in the world, their only habitat being Iran's deserts.



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