In Iran, cheetahs collared for the first time

Mar 01, 2007
In Iran, cheetahs collared for the first time
Phd Student Guy Balme (WCS) and Iranian vet Kamran Kashiri (CACP) celebrate the successful radio-collaring of the first Asiatic cheetah in Iran. Credit: WCS/DoE-CACP/ZSL/UNDP

An international team of scientists led by the Wildlife Conservation Society working in Iran has successfully fitted two Asiatic cheetahs with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars, marking the first time this highly endangered population of big cats can be tracked by conservationists.

Once found throughout the continent, Asiatic cheetahs now live only in extremely arid habitat on the edges of Iran's Kavir Desert. WCS's government partner in Iran, the Department of Environment/CACP project estimates their remaining numbers between 60 and 100 animals, making the Asiatic cheetah one of the most imperiled cats on earth.

The two male cheetahs were captured in the Bafgh Protected Area, Yazd Province, in the south-west area of the central Iranian plateau, where they were tranquilized, and fitted with compact GPS collars weighing 350 grams- only 1% of the cheetahs' weight. It is the first time the species has been handled by a scientific team in Iran and represents a unique new phase of WCS's long-term involvement in the country. The new collars will furnish very precise information on the routes that cheetahs use to travel between protected areas, and will reveal the key features in the landscapes that are critical to their survival. .

"This is an amazing milestone in securing the long-term future for the Asiatic cheetah," said Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Dr. Luke Hunter, who led the international team. "We know very little about the important ecological needs of the species in Iran except that they require vast areas for their survival. Understanding their movements as they travel between reserves is one of the first steps in establishing a plan to secure and connect the few remaining populations of this incredible animal."

Once ranging from the Red Sea to India, the Asiatic cheetah today is hanging on by only the thinnest of threads. In the 1970s, estimates of the number of cheetahs in Iran ranged from 100 to 400 animals. But widespread poaching of cheetahs and their prey during the early years of the 1979 revolution, along with degradation of habitat due to livestock grazing, have pushed this important predator to the brink of extinction. Historically cheetahs have played a significant role in Iranian culture, being trained by its emperors to hunt gazelles in ancient times.

Iranian biologist and director of the project in Iran, Dr Hooshang Ziaie said "These captures herald a new era of conservation in Iran. This is the first time we have successfully deployed these collars in Iran, and the data they provide will enable us to make very specific recommendations for conserving cheetahs for future generations. We are delighted that this international collaboration is producing such important outcomes."

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

Explore further: Cell manipulation could lead to the better treatment of disease

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

IOC defends Rio legacy amid green protests

1 hour ago

Ecological protests on Saturday dogged the final day of an International Olympic Committee executive board meeting in Rio as green campaigners slated the choice of a nature reserve to hold the golf event ...

Japan's NTT to buy German data centre operator

1 hour ago

Japanese telecom giant NTT Communications is looking to acquire German data centre operator e-shelter, as it seeks to cash in on growing demand in Europe, a newspaper reported Saturday.

Fashionable or geeky—the modern watch dilemma

5 hours ago

It's Milan fashion week, you've got tickets to the catwalk shows and an outfit to die for, but which watch to wear? A chunky smartwatch or chic ticker that can't tell the time?

Recommended for you

Sizing up cells: Study finds possible regulator of growth

4 hours ago

Modern biology has attained deep knowledge of how cells work, but the mechanisms by which cellular structures assemble and grow to the right size largely remain a mystery. Now, Princeton University researchers ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

kombizz
not rated yet Aug 21, 2008

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.