photos by vahid salemi at the miandasht wildlife refuge in northeastern iran of one of the estimated fifty to seventy remaining asiatic cheetahs in the world. as fast as its african cousin, the asiatic cheetah once ranged from the middle east to india, but its numbers have plummeted due to poaching, the hunting of gazelles, which are its main prey, and encroachment on its habitat.
with help from the united nations, the iranian government has stepped up efforts to rescue the species; rangers in the refuge have been equipped with night vision goggles and cameras have been set up around cheetah habitats to watch for any threat. they have also fitted the cheetahs with gps collars so their movements can be tracked.
authorities have also built shelters in arid areas where the cats can have access to water, and they’ve reached out to nearby communities, training them how to deal with cheetahs and promising compensation for livestock killed by cheetahs to prevent shepherds or farmers from hunting them.
this year at the world cup, the iranian players wore jerseys with a cheetah print on the front to help raise awareness about this critically endangered species. (see also: previous conservation posts)