SHAFAQNA – UN resident coordinator in Iran has said cooperation between Department of Environment and the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project has reversed the extinction trend among Asiatic cheetahs.
Gary Lewis who was addressing the ceremony to celebrate the International Cheetah Day (December 5) on Saturday, told the meeting that the ceremony celebrated 12 years of cooperation with Iran’s Department of Environment in protection of Asiatic cheetah; “during the last 12 years, the UN came to help us in installing trap cameras in cheetah habitats; the aid also proved effective in extending the scope of the protection, which drastically reversed the down-hill extinction curve now into a flat,” Lewis added.
“We have the opportunity now to save Asiatic cheetahs and their habitat, and the UN will provide Iran’s government with any help needed; in the past decade, the UN pumped $10mn into the project, and has actually on the agenda increasing the aid allocated to the project CACP (the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project),” Lewis told the meeting, however adding that no precise figures had been announced for new pledges, and that he was doing necessary arrangements for securing a lump sum.
Masoumeh Ebtekar, Head of Department of Environment, also addressed the meeting in a brief speech; “our trap cameras had revealed the rising number of cubs up to 18, which is the outcome of a collective attempt by CACP, Department of Environment, local public, and the UN experts; Pardisan Park of Tehran is now home to a couple; and we now receive expert information from international large cat consultants to bring under control the couple’s behavior,” she said. “We are very hopeful to see the couple’s mating and birth of at least a cub after a miscarriage which squandered the genetically valuable cub months ago.”
Ebtekar then addressed Lewis in English in reminding a national commitment to save the animal under extinction; “Lewis, when in Yazd, we spoke of cheetah, which is a valuable species under extinction,” she said.
Houman Jokar, the Director of CACP told the meeting of an idea which hit the project to bring the male and female cheetahs so that they mate. He calls female cheetah ‘Delbar,’ and male cheetah ‘Koushki.’ “Scarcely would cheetahs actually mate in captivity; excellent conditions should be present so that a couple establish psychological connections before physical contact; this is a prerequisite in the wild for a successful mating and birth of new cubs,” he commented. As Iman Memarian, wildlife veterinarian and a contributor to CACP says, Delbar had underwent an abortion due to an infectious kidney problem, which fortunately was treated in Tehran; “however, the disease will company Delbar to her death; the kidney problem is endemic to the cat family and could be controlled as well.”
Memarian invests much hope in the mating of the two and coming of fresh cubs; “apart from new births in captivity which actually is good news (and unique experience as well), we have amassed invaluable information as to the species’ reproductive behavior; we detected differences in levels of red and white blood cells and other enzymes of Asiatic cheetahs with those of African cats,” he detailed.
Houman Jokar said in a hope-inspiring remarks that the habitat of Asiatic cheetah had undergone the least changes during 14 past years unlike other habitats across the country; “in northern wildlife refuges of Khartouran and Miandasht, we observed higher dynamism in the cheetah population, with visitors fortunate enough to catch a rare glimpse of cheetah and her cubs quite infrequently,” he added.
“8 years ago, the public awareness was not as high as it today at least among the rural locals; for example, a local shepherd on motorbike would chase a female along her cubs in search of finding a plaything for his child; he succeeds in tiring and trapping Koushki which was lagging behind his mother and sibling; however, the locals find the cub invariably priceless and inform the Department of Environment local officials who come to save the cub,” Jokar accounted. “The 4-month-old cub was in no condition to manage itself on the wild and fortunately, a fence in Minadasht accepted it as beloved child of the nature; the second cub with the similar fate four years later met Koushki as father of her cubs for the first time.”