This project and article was dedicated to our beloved, cheetah, Marita! In this 2007 article, Dr. Mohammad S.Farhadinia documents the work of Project Asiatic Cheetah in Miandasht, initiated by the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS). In 2007, ICS recommended to monitor the population demography of the cheetah and its associated species in order to ensure the animal's survival inside Miandasht and neighbor habitats where the cheetahs may disperse. ICS also said it iscritical to launch an organized educational program to increase the local people's knowledge about the fauna of Miandasht and decrease the present conflicts. Photograph of Marita by Mohammad S. Farhadinian
In 1997, Hormoz Asadi located less than 100 Asiatic Cheetahs in Iran in the report for UNDP Cat Specialist Group.About 96% of the natural habitat of the country was altered. Another major cause of wildlife loss has been the commercial exploitation of certain wildlife species, e.g. gazelles, leopards, falcons, bustards. partridges. waterfowl and crocodiles. These wildlife species were over- harvested from the wild mainly for export, without any concern for conservation and replenishment measures, resulting in a drastic fall in their populations. Under such pressure. some species may already be extinct and some brought to the verge of extinction, among them the Asiatic cheetah Acinonyx venaticus. In 2020, just 23 years later, Asiatic cheetah numbers have decreased by at least 50 percent. In addition to direct killing and shooting of wildlife, the major cause of the rapid decline has been habitat disturbance.
"The Iranian environmental movement largely owes its existence to one man: Eskandar Firouz, a charismatic aristocrat and big game hunter. Starting in the 1960s, he created what was then one of the most extensive national park networks anywhere in the world. Through the new reserves, he launched a last-ditch bid to save several species, including the Asiatic cheetah, only a few decades after Iran had lost the last of its tigers."