A breathtaking feline, the Asiatic Cheetah finds its dwindling home in the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge & Turan Biosphere Reserve. This cheetah’s numbers, alarmingly, have seen a sharp decline, raising concerns among conservationists. The consensus at the National Iranian Cheetah Day conference on August 29, 2023, was, “Joint efforts are imperative for the survival of this species.”
This gathering in Jayaram County was a melting pot of environmentalists, officials, & the passionate Iranian Cheetah Society. The current state of the Iranian Cheetah was candidly discussed by the society, emphasizing the challenges it faces. The conference was more than just a discussion; it was a call to action for collaboration among all the stakeholders.
The dedication of the Iranian Cheetah Society is evident in their relentless efforts to safeguard the cheetah’s habitat. Ahmad Tea Company & Negin Processing Company funded the salaries of 2 ranger assistants in 2023, in a commendable move. These local rangers have been the unsung heroes in the Turan National Park’s conservation narrative. Conducted every winter & summer, annual surveys are pivotal in motivating Iran’s protected areas.
Spanning one and a half million hectares, the expansive Touran Biosphere Reserve is a treasure trove of biodiversity. This reserve is a sanctuary for species like the Persian leopard, Asiatic Cheetah, & Gray Wolf. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, the reserve plays a crucial role in preserving the region’s ecological balance.
A heart-wrenching incident unfolded when a young Asiatic Cheetah named “Tara” was found in a dire state. The Iranian Cheetah Society reported on August 22, 2023, “Tara’s condition was alarming, with a bloody mouth & a leech attached to his tongue.” Concerns were raised by the society about the circumstances surrounding Tara’s death. The Department of Environment has pledged to investigate the matter thoroughly.
Camera traps captured a glimmer of hope in the Touran National Park in May 2023. The images revealed Khurshid (Talkhab) with her four cubs, quenching their thirst at a watering hole. The lineage of Khurshid has been meticulously documented, showcasing three successful births. Conservation efforts in the region have led to an increase in prey, ensuring the cheetah’s survival. However, the looming threats to the Asiatic Cheetah’s habitat cannot be ignored.
The Iranian Cheetah Society has been proactive in bolstering conservation forces in the Touran & Mindasht regions. By hiring local rangers, the society aims to enhance the protection of these habitats. Ranger stations, often located in remote areas, face challenges in accessing clean water. With support from Elite Company, the Iranian Cheetah Society provided water purification devices to ranger stations in Miandasht in July 2022. Ensuring clean drinking water for rangers is a step towards enhancing their living conditions & promoting conservation.
Concerns were raised by the society about new mining plans in the cheetah’s habitat in May 2022. The society stated, “The overlap of the mining area with the Cheetah habitat is alarming.” The mining announcement is deemed illegal by the Department of Environment & the matter has been taken to the court. The Iranian Cheetah Society shared its findings of 2021 with the rangers of the Touran Biosphere Reserve in May 2022.
Located in the Anatolian Iran deserts, the reserve boasts diverse habitats. Communities surrounding the reserve primarily rely on agriculture & animal husbandry. Covering approximately 1,459,506.2 hectares, the reserve is Iran’s second-largest protected area. The reserve is home to unique species like the Asiatic Cheetah & Persian Onager.
The first-ever Asiatic Cheetah cubs were born in a captive breeding center on May 1, 2022, marking a monumental moment. Updates reveal that two of the cubs are female, and they were born through a cesarean procedure. While the cubs are thriving, the mother has yet to accept them. Global collaboration of experts ensures the well-being of these cubs. The Iranian Cheetah Society continues to monitor the situation closely.
The society’s efforts extend beyond conservation to raising public awareness. Their initiatives have garnered support from both national & international donors. The future of the Asiatic Cheetah hinges on collective efforts & sustainable conservation strategies. The society believes, “Every individual, from ranger to researcher, plays a pivotal role in this conservation journey.” The importance of community involvement in conservation is highlighted by the society’s endeavors. From habitat loss to human-animal conflicts, the challenges faced by the Asiatic Cheetah are manifold. Combined with community support, the society’s proactive approach can pave the way for the cheetah’s survival. The Iranian Cheetah Society remains committed to its mission, ensuring that future generations witness the majestic Asiatic Cheetah in the wild. Conservation isn’t just about protecting a species but preserving an ecosystem & its intricate balance. The journey ahead is challenging, but with collective efforts, the Asiatic Cheetah’s legacy will endure.