Despite the efforts of conservationists to protect the Asiatic cheetah and the Persian leopard, the Iranian government appears unwilling to help.
A recently completed camera trapping program in Iran aimed at understanding the population composition and dynamism of the Asiatic cheetah and the Persian leopard across multiple reserves in central country, including the Bafq Protected Area, showed that Iran’s population of Persian leopards and cheetahs is hanging on by a thread.
The Bafq Protected Area
in the eastern part of the country, established in 1996, is one of the main habitats for the big cats. Recently, in an amazingly shortsighted pronouncement, Bafq Governor Office authorities declared that because only two leopards and 6 cheetahs were identified in the Bafq Protected Area, the area “does not have high environmental importance to continue its protection as a reserve.”
In contrast, investigations have revealed that the Bafq area contains the largest single populations of both the Persian leopard and the Asiatic cheetah. The cats are literally on the brink of extinction, and unless some very radical work is done to form effective biological corridors between the fragments of land where they live, clamping down on poaching and letting the habitat recover, their chances don’t look great. Their fate comes largely down to politics. Driving a new road through the center of their habitat hastens their extinction.
The Iranian Cheetah Society, Yazd Department of Environment (DoE) and Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) have been negotiating with communities and authorities to reconsider construction of the road for more than a year, along with promoting huge media coverage to spread awareness of the road’s negative impact on threatened wildlife. The proposed Bafq road is nowadays the largest concern for Iranian environmentalists for the survival of the Asiatic cheetahs and Persian leopards.
The camera trapping program in 2012 was implemented by the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) and Yazd DoE in partnership with the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) and Panthera.