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IRAN Iran’s Asiatic cheetah at risk of extinction

From a hundred in 2010, only a dozen remains: nine males and three females. Despite protection measures adopted since 2001 in cooperation with the UN, the situation has become “extremely critical”. Drought, poaching and road accidents are the main risk factors. Iran is home to at least 1,300 different animal species, 130 of which are threatened or at risk of extinction.

 

Tehran (AsiaNews) – About a dozen Asiatic cheetahs are left in Iran. UN-supported protection and safeguard programmes have done very little to help the species, which is increasingly endangered and in a “extremely critical” situation.

Iran’s Deputy Environment Minister Hassan Akbari sounded the alarm yesterday, noting that the “measures we have taken to increase protection, reproduction, and the installation of road signs have not been enough to save this species,”

“There are currently only nine males and three females against 100 in 2010 and their situation is extremely critical,” he told the Tasnim news agency. The species could disappear in the not-so-distant future.

Environment Ministry officials note that the animal has been victim of drought, hunters and car accidents, especially in the country’s central desert where the last of them live.

The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, capable of reaching 120 km per hour.

Once their natural habitat extended from the eastern shore of India to the Atlantic coast of Senegal and beyond. Today they are found in some parts of southern Africa, but have almost completely disappeared from North Africa and Asia.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the subspecies Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, better known as the Asiatic cheetah, is critically endangered.

Iran is one of the last countries in the world where the animal lives in the wild and, since 2001, the country’s authorities have developed a protection programme with the support of the United Nations.

For Iranians, the animal is also a symbol of the country, so much so that in 2014 the national football team added the image of a cheetah to their jerseys for the World Cup.

Iran is home to at least 1,300 different animal species, 130 of which are threatened or at risk of extinction. In addition to the Asiatic cheetah, the list includes the Siberian crane, the great bustard, the Persian onager, plus some local reptiles and amphibians.

A lack of knowledge about such species and their natural habitat is one of the problems; this has prompted experts to create a database for information sharing and “improve the quality of nature protection”.

Iran has a high diversity of species due to its geographical conditions, climatic diversity, the huge water resources of the Caspian Sea in the north and of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman in the south.

According to the latest studies, about 1,300 species of vertebrates, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic fish, about 30,000 species of invertebrates, and 8,000 species of plants have been identified in the country.

Unfortunately, over the past two decades, human activities have led to alarming degradation of ecosystems, as well as the loss of genes, species, and biological capabilities.

Human threats to biodiversity have increased the most in the past 50 years compared to rest of human history.

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