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article imageIranian and U.N. officials attempt to save the Asiatic cheetah

By Walter McDaniel     Jun 26, 2014 in Environment
Tehran - At first glance protecting an endangered cheetah seems straightforward. However the situation in Iran is more complicated than any casual observer could realize.
The AP report details both what is being done to save these animals and some of the risks they face. These range from careless drivers running them over to them being killed by sheep dogs trying to protect their master's flock. Many factors have added up to leave the cheetah population struggling.
"There are no other Asiatic cheetahs like the one that you have here in Iran," mentions Gary Lewis who works with the U.N. Development Programme there. Those with the program are trying to help locals keep these animals alive in their natural environment. They are enlisting the efforts of rangers and other experts in order to protect this species. Their final plan is to make these animals an even more vital part of the Iranian tourist industry.
While there are now new problems for the species it was originally over-hunting of their prey that caused some to starve, according to Panthera. Poaching of cheetah cubs to be sold as pets and also habitat destruction from both humans as well as nature caused the rest of the problem. There are probably only around 70-110 Asiatic cheetahs left on the plains.
These problems got really bad in 2013 when those nearby noticed an upswing in poaching. Now we are seeing the final result of this illegal hunting.
Local herders are perhaps the best example of the problems Iranian officials face when dealing with the situation. The herder needs to let the sheep graze, sometimes in cheetah land, in order to feed his family. Those who understand their environmental impact have little choice between encroaching on cheetah lands and starving. The sheep dogs do not know any better than to kill threats such as cheetahs.
Just by trying to live their lives these people and pets can damage the environment while killing endangered species. Leaders in Iran must figure out how to balance the needs of local families with the sanctity of the environment. One example they could look at is reindeer herders who maintain their local area while herding. Their methods are promising but creating a similar situation in Iran will likely be much more difficult.
More about Iran, Conservation, Endangered species, Cheetah
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