One of the most remarkable creatures on the planet, the Asiatic cheetah, is nearing extinction.
According to The Guardian, "Fewer than 50 of the critically endangered carnivores are thought to be left in the wild—all of them in Iran—and scientists fear that without urgent intervention there is little chance of saving one of the planet’s most distinctive and graceful hunters."
The United Nations recently pulled funding to protect these animals, which put them at an even greater risk. Iranian conservationist Jamshid Parchizadeh told The Guardian that lack of funding and protection means certain death for the Asiatic cheetah. "Iran has already suffered from the loss of the Asiatic lion and the Caspian tiger," he stated. "Now we are about to see the Asiatic cheetah go extinct as well.”
The Asiatic cheetah, which is one of the fastest land animals on Earth, has seen a steady decline in population in Iran due to hunting, loss of habitat, and road accidents. (Before they were found in Iran, Asiatic cheetahs once lived in both India and Asia, but were driven out because of factors like hunting and farming.)
While efforts have been made by conservationists and scientists over the years to save the Asiatic cheetah, the situation is dire. In a letter written to Nature.com, Parchizadeh stated, "Bringing the Asiatic cheetah back from the brink of extinction will require close cooperation between governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and grassroots stakeholders. The government’s wholehearted support is crucial."
Dr. Laurie Marker, the founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, also recently wrote a letter that urged for open communication about the cheetah crisis, especially via technology. (She also pointed out that the Asiatic cheetah isn't the only type of cheetah in danger: "The harsh reality is cheetahs are on a crash-course with extinction. One hundred years ago, there were 100,000; today less than 8,000.")
"We can share solutions with organizations in all cheetah home range territories and with people everywhere wishing to save this magnificent species for future generations," Marker wrote. "Humans have caused the problems that are threatening the cheetah, but we are also the only species that can save them."
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