The Asiatic cheetah is now known as Iranian cheetah, as the world’s last few are known to survive mostly in Iran.
The Asiatic cheetah is a critically endangered subspecies of the cheetah found today only in Iran, with some occasional sightings in Balochestan, Pakistan, Wikipedia.org reported.
It lives mainly in Iran’s vast central desert in fragmented habitats. Although once common, the animal was driven to extinction in other parts of southwest Asia from Arabia to India and Afghanistan.
As of 2013, only 20 cheetahs were identified in Iran but some areas remain to be surveyed; the total population may be 50 to 100.
The Asiatic cheetah was separated from its African relative between 32,000 and 67,000 years ago. Along with the Eurasian lynx and the Persian leopard, it is one of three remaining species of large cats in Iran today.
Asiatic cheetahs once ranged from Arabia to India, through Iran, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
In Iran and the Indian subcontinent, it was particularly numerous. Cheetahs are the only big cat that can be tamed and trained to hunt gazelle.
Mughal Emperor Akbar, who ruled in India, was said to have had 1,000 cheetahs at one time, something depicted in many Persian and Indian miniature paintings.
By the beginning of the 20th century, the species was already heading for extinction in many areas.
Widespread hunting of the cheetah and its prey, along with conversion of its grassland habitat to farmland, eliminated it from its entire range in southwest Asia and India.
The last physical evidence of the Asiatic cheetah in India was three shot by the Maharajah of Surguja in 1947 in eastern Madhya Pradesh. By 1990, the Asiatic cheetah appeared to survive only in Iran, mostly in the Kavir Desert.
The Asiatic cheetah has for a long time been classified as a subspecies of the cheetah.
In September 2009, Stephen J. O’Brien from the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity of the National Cancer Institute said the Asiatic cheetah was genetically identical to the African cheetah and had separated about 5,000 years ago--not enough time for a subspecies differentiation.
In comparison, O’Brien said the Asian and African lion subspecies were separated 100,000 years ago, and the African and Asian leopard subspecies 169,000 years ago.
However, a much more detailed five-year genetic study involving the gathering of DNA samples from the wild, zoos and museums in eight countries published in Molecular Ecology concluded that African and Asiatic cheetahs were genetically very distinct.
Molecular sequence comparisons suggest that they separated between 32,000 to 67,000 years ago and that subspecies level differentiation had occurred.
The populations in Iran are the last remaining representatives of the Asian lineage.
Persecution, land-use change, habitat degradation and fragmentation, and desertification contributed to the cheetah’s decline.
According to Iran’s Department of Environment, this degradation occurred mainly between 1988 and 1991.
The cheetah is affected by loss of prey as a result of overgrazing from introduced livestock and antelope hunting. Its prey was pushed out as herders entered game reserves with their herds.
Habitat loss from mining development may also threaten the populations. Coal, copper and iron have been mined in the cheetah’s habitat in three different regions in central and eastern Iran.
It is estimated that the two regions for coal and iron have the largest cheetah population outside the protected areas.
Mining itself is not a direct threat to cheetahs; road construction and the resulting traffic have made the cheetah accessible to humans, including poachers.
The Iranian border regions to Afghanistan and Pakistan are major passages for armed outlaws and opium smugglers who are active in the central and western regions of Iran, which pass through the cheetah habitat.
According to Asada in 1997, the region suffers from uncontrolled hunting throughout the desert and the governments of the three countries cannot establish control.
There is no reliable information regarding the present situation in this region.
The Asiatic cheetah is now listed as critically endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals.
Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, wildlife conservation did not enjoy high priority, but in recent years Iran has made efforts to conserve the remaining population.
Iran’s Department of the Environment, the United Nations Development Programmed (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have launched the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP), which has been designed to preserve and rehabilitate the remaining areas of cheetah habitat left in Iran.
Some surveys in the latter half of 1997 showed that urgent action was required to rehabilitate wildlife populations, especially gazelles and their habitat, if the Asiatic cheetah is to survive.
The Wildlife Conservation Society and Iran’s Department of Environment began a collaring project for Asiatic cheetahs in the fall of 2006.
These measures are expected to boost the numbers of cheetah in Iran.
Virgin Nature of Iran
Geno is a region with a unique mountainous terrain, which has abundant ecological values.
It is a protected area spread over 27,500 hectares and located in southern Iran, northwest of the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas. Its proximity to various civilian areas has added to its importance, IRIB reported.
The Geno protected area derives its name from the mountain range of the same name that covers 350 square kilometers.
Regions south and east of the Geno Mountain Range are mostly lowlands while to the north and west are high altitude plains.
The highest peak in Geno mountains towers 2,347 above sea-level. The mountain range is located southeast of the Zagros Mountain Range and has a mild weather.
The mountain range divides the region into different ecological areas. On the southern side adjacent to the Persian Gulf are plains and on the northern side is an arid semi-desert region.
The region has contrasting temperatures depending on the altitude. In summer when the temperature in the lowlands soars to over 40 degrees centigrade, the mountain peaks of Geno have a pleasant weather of 26 degrees.
The temperature difference and ecosystem diversity have made the region an ideal place for recreation.
Geno has plenty of water resources. There are at least 40 springs in the region, which meet the water needs of wildlife throughout the year.
Some of these springs are used by local villagers for farming and drinking purposes. The area abounds in citrus gardens and palm trees.
Geno’s hot water springs are also famous for their healing effects. These springs attract the local people and tourists, and every year many people travel to the area for treatment of their ailments.
The hot springs of Geno are located in a green area with high and low plains, palm trees and picturesque spots. If planned very well, the region can become one of the main tourist attractions of Iran.
It is worth knowing that Geno has a wide variety of plants that thrive in different climatic conditions. Thus, it is the only known place in Iran, which could be called a botanical treasure trove.
Geno possesses an outstanding diversity of plain and mountain wildlife. Goat, hyena, wolf, fox and jackal are among the important mammals of this region.
A special kind of fish named Aphanius Quinois is also exclusive to Geno’s hot water springs and has not been seen in other parts of the world.
There are plenty of reptiles in this region because of Geno’s hot and dry geographical conditions.
Every form you see has its archetype in the placeless world ;
If the form perished, no matter, since its original is everlasting.
Every fair shape you have seen, every deep saying you have heard,
Be not cast down that it perished; for that is not so.
Whereas the spring-head is undying, its branch gives water continually .
Since neither can cease, why are you lamenting ?
Conceive the soul as a fountain, and these created things as rivers :
While the fountain flows, the rivers run from it.
Put grief out of your head and keep quaffing this river water;
Do not think of the water failing; for this water is without end.
From the moment you came into the world of being,
A ladder was placed before you that you might escape.
First you were mineral, later you turned to plant,
Then you became animal: how should this be a secret to you ?
Afterwards you were made human, with knowledge, reason, faith ;
Behold the body, which is a portion of the dust-pit, how perfect it has grown!
When you have travelled on from man, you will doubtless become an angel ;
After that, you are done with this earth: your station is in heaven.
Pass again even from angelhood: enter that ocean,
That your drop may become a sea which is a hundred seas of Oman.
Leave this ‘ Son,’ say ever ‘One’ with all your soul;
If your body has aged, what matter, when the soul is young?
Tomatoes, 4 large
Ground beef, 300 grams
Rice, 1/2 cup (cooked)
Onion, 1 cup (small diced)
Garlic, 2 cloves (minced)
Parsley, 1 cup (packed)
Green onions, 1 cup (chopped)
Mint, 1/2 cup (chopped)
Ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon
Tarragon, 1 tablespoon (chopped)
Tomato pulp, 1 cup
Cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
Ground rose petals, 1/2 teaspoon
Salt & pepper to taste
Grind cinnamon, ground rose petals and ground cumin together and keep in an airtight container.
Wash tomatoes and cut the top portion. Remove pulp with a melon baller or a paring knife and teaspoon.
Make sure to take enough pulp out so that there is space left on all sides of the tomato. Save pulp. Turn each tomato upside down on a paper towel.
Saute onion and minced garlic in some oil until translucent. Add meat and cook until it turns brown.
Add one cup of chopped tomato pulp, including some of the juice. Season with salt and pepper and cook uncovered until the meat cooks all the way through and the juices evaporate completely.
Finely chop parsley and mint. Add parsley, mint, tarragon, green onions and the ground spices to the meat. Mix well.
Add rice and once again mix well. Make sure to check seasoning at this point and adjust as needed. Cook for a couple of minutes longer.
Season the inside of each tomato with some salt. Don’t skip this step, as it will make a huge difference taste-wise.
Evenly divide the stuffing between the four tomatoes pressing down so that it all fits. Sprinkle a touch of salt on the top parts and place on each corresponding tomato.
Line an ovenproof dish with parchment paper, lightly spray with oil and arrange tomatoes in the dish.
Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.
ACD Cultural Meeting
The third meeting of high-ranking officials and culture ministers of Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) will be held in Tehran during May 7-8.