23 Oct 2013:
Endangered Asiatic Cheetahs
Are Spotted by Iranian Conservationists
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Amirhossein Khaleghi/ PWHF/CACP/UNDP/DOE
Asiatic cheetah with cubs
Iranian conservationists have spotted a rare Asiatic cheetah with four cubs, offering hope that the large cats can be pulled back from the brink of extinction. Only 40 to 70 Asiatic cheetahs exist today, all in Iran. Over the weekend, conservationists with the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF) spotted the five cheetahs in Khar Turan national park in northern Iran. "In the past year or so that we closely monitored Turan, we never spotted a family, especially female cheetahs with cubs," Delaram Ashayeri, project manager at PWHF, told the Guardian
. "It shows Asiatic cheetahs are surviving, breeding cubs are managing to continue life. It's good news against a barrage of bad news about these animals." Iranian conservationists have been involved in a decade-long campaign to protect the cheetahs and educate indigenous people living near them. But sanctions imposed by Western nations over Iran's nuclear program have hampered conservationists' efforts, making it difficult to secure international funding and equipment, such as camera traps. Advocates also warn that mining operations and road construction near cheetah habitat have put recovery efforts at risk.