Asiatic Cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus venaticus once ranged over the grasslands of India, Pakistan, Russia, Iran and the Middle East.
The cats have been nearly wiped out by excessive hunting, habitat degradation and scarcity of prey species that were hunted to near extinction by man. There have been no sightings in Afghanistan since the 1950’s, and a 2001 survey in Pakistan found no sign of the big cats. They used to wander from Iran to Turkmenistan but construction of a border fence has made this natural migration more difficult.
The Iranian Cheetah has a smaller head than their African cousins. Their legs are shorter, their coat thicker and their neck is more powerful.
The last wild Asiatic Cheetahs in Iran are now thought to number between 70-110 individuals, all occupying the remote and arid central plateau. Iran considers their 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 (DOE) partnered with Panthera and various other groups including the Wildlife Conservation Society and the United Nations Development Program to create a comprehensive conservation program.
Through this project, researchers are protecting the last remaining Iranian Cheetahs, their prey base and their natural habitats by mitigating direct threats facing Cheetahs and their prey; gathering ecological data; enhancing and empowering law enforcement officials; 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.
- Mohammad S. Farhadinia, Luke T. B. Hunter, Alireza Jourabchian, Fatemeh Hosseini-Zavarei, Hasan Akbari, Hooshang Ziaie, George B. Schaller, Houman Jowkar
Exceptionally long movements of the Asiatic cheetah across multiple arid reserves in central Iran
Understanding spatial ecology is essential for the development of effective and appropriate conservation strategies, especially for the Asiatic cheetah Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, which occurs at a low density across vast arid areas of Iran. Yet, despite its Critically Endangered status, information on the ranging and movement of this species was formerly lacking. Here we present data for exceptionally long movements of a few individuals across multiple reserves in central Iran, obtained using camera traps during 2009–2013.
We identified an adult female who moved c. 150 km multiple times between two reserves in 3 years, covering an estimated 3,629 km2. After becoming independent her three sons formed a coalition and ranged across multiple reserves, covering an estimated 4,862 km2 in their first 3 years. An adult male was also found patrolling three reserves, moving up to 40 km across an estimated 807 km2. These data demonstrate that cheetahs in Iran cover vast ranges, and indicate a requirement for large, connected areas for the long-term conservation of this metapopulation.
Mohammad S. Farhadinia,Hasan Akbari,Seyed-Jalal Mousavi,Morteza Eslami,Morteza Azizi,Javad Shokouhi,Navid Gholikhani and Fatemeh Hosseini-Zavarei (2013).
Oryx, Volume 47, Issue 03, July 2013 pp 427-430
See the Iranian Cheetah Society for more information.