Words by Smiley Team
Three Asiatic cheetah cubs have been born at the Touran Wildlife Refuge in the Semnan province of Iran, which is a step in the right direction for the highly endangered subspecies.
‘Iran’, the mother, is one of just 12 cheetahs left in the country. She and the cubs are being monitored in intensive care but are “healthy”, according to Ali Salajegheh, who is Chief of the Department of Environment.
“This is the first birth of an Asiaic cheetah in captivity,” he told IRNA news agency. “By preserving these cubs, we can increase the cheetah population in captivity and then in semi-captivity.”
The situation for the subspecies has been called “extremely critical” by Hassan Akbari, Deputy Environment Minister.
“The measures we have taken to increase protection, reproduction, and the installation of road signs have not been enough to save this species,” Hassan told the Tanism News Agency.
Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals and can accelerate faster than most sports cars, reaching 112km/h in just 12 seconds. The species is thought to have become critically endangered due to a number of reasons, such as habitat loss, poachers and collisions with cars.
Even though the existence of the subspecies is very delicate as of now, Touran Wildlife Refuge’s success in breeding three healthy cubs is a sign that the situation can be improved. In Iran, the 31st August has become National Cheetah Day, which is endorsed by the Department of Environment and used to promote the protection and conservation of Asiatic cheetahs.
The Asaitic Cheetah Project, which was founded by Dr Hormoz Asadi (1948-2008) is continued by his daughter and continues to spread messages of conservation of the subspecies through education.
The project publishes articles, podcasts and films to raise awareness of the threat to the remaining Asistic cheetah population. They published a children’s picture book about ‘Marita the Cheetah’, who was a cheetah that survived a human attack that left both of her sisters dead.
Marita died from respiratory issues in 2004 despite efforts to save her, but the story continues to help teach new generations about the importance of cheetah conservation.
SUPPORT: You can find ways to support The Asaitic Cheetah Project on its website.
DONATE: You can also donate to Born Free, an animal charity that’s passionate about wild animal welfare and Compassionate Conservation.