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Iran Trying to Save Asiatic Cheetah from Extinction

Jun 26, 2014 08:23 AM EDT

Iran is trying to save the last few Asiatic Cheetahs.

The Asiatic Cheetah or Acinonyx jubatus ssp. Venaticus once roamed in Russia, Pakistan, India and the Middle-East. Now, just 50 to 70 of this species remain in Iran with most being restricted to Northern Iran.

According to a report by the Associated Press, Iran is collaborating with the United Nations to save the last few cheetahs. Rangers have been given night vision cameras to track the feline movements and watch for any dangers. Local communities have also been trained to tackle these cats and the Iranian government has promised compensation to farmers who have lost livestock due to cheetah-attacks.

The Iranian Cheetah has a more powerful neck than its cousin, the African Cheetah, but has a smaller head and shorter legs.

"There are no other Asiatic cheetahs like the one that you have here in Iran, so it is essential for us as human beings to conserve our biodiversity by protecting this animal," said Gary Lewis, from the UN Development Program, The Associated Press reported.

According to the United Nations Development Programme in Iran, number of Asiatic cheetahs roaming in Iran has increased in recent times due to joint efforts by the Iranian government, UN and local conservation agencies. The Asiatic cheetah is also the symbol of Iran's national football team.

The Iranian government hopes that saving cheetahs will also boost local tourism.

"It is an endangered species. The cheetah is considered to be one of the most charismatic cats," said Vice President Masoumeh Ebtekar, who heads Iran's Department of the Environment, according to Associated Press. "It is important for, for example, our ecotourism when many people who enjoy coming just to visit our natural habitats for the cheetah and to see, to have a glimpse of the cheetah. So we are working very seriously with international organizations as well as our national specialists and experts to protect this species."

Recently, the Persian wildlife heritage foundation (PWHF) reported spotting a group of five Asiatic cheetahs - a mother with four cubs, The Guardian reported.

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