Thursday 10 May 2007
According to the latest surveys, it is estimated that at least 70 to 100 Iranian cheetahs occur throughout the country. As a result of continuous field surveys, tracking, direct observations, gathering local people's encounters which all have been verified by the results of more than 12000 nights of camera trapping inside 7 cheetah habitats during the past 10 years in collaboration with the Iranian Department of the Environment (DOE), the present figure has been concluded. The cheetahs exist in eastern half of the country and the central province of Yazd hods the highest population, possibly half of it and Semnan, Khorasan and Esfahan are the other refugees of the cheetahs in Iran.
The cheetahs possess individual-specific spotted patterns; therefore, comparing the images caught by camera traps is a reliable and scientific approach to find the minimum size of each population. It is known that the cheetahs used to patrol large areas in search for prey, mate, etc; thus, it is difficult to consider a constant number for each reserve. However, we have found no individual common between 2 areas. Presently, a minimum of 900 thousands square kilometers of 1.6 millions square kilometers country is considered as the cheetahs' territory.
In 2000, the cheetahs were known by the Iranian DOE to occur inside 5 reserves, but more investigations by the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) added 2 more areas to the cheetahs' range in 2002 and 2003, totally 7 known reserves verified to hold small populations of the cheetahs, from 6 to more than 20 individuals. Meanwhile, there are more areas where are not verified to be a cheetah habitats, but on the basis of historical data or occasional reports, they are suspected to be a piece of the cheetah's jigsaw puzzle in Iran. Accordingly, it is logical to dare to think that the cheetah's population may even exceed 100. The Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) hopes to reach to more accurate estimations of the cheetah population in the country in near future.
During the past 2 decades, no scientific surveys have been conducted on the Iranian cheetahs, but a few by experts and university professors. Also, there has not been any reliable estimate of the cheetah's population size and sometimes, they were even believed to be extinct. Ziaie and Dareshuri regarded the cheetahs' number around 10 in mid 1990s and Jourabchian reported 50 to the Iranian government in 1999. Before 1979 revolution, Fiouz estimated that the country holds 200 to 300 cheetahs, but Joslin considering it as a "rough over-estimation" declared that the cheetah's number is around 100. With respect to the present situation, it seems that Firouz's guess has been more real for the cheetah's population in mid 1970s.