The Asiatic Cheetah: A Call to Reinstate Funding
With estimated numbers around just 50 in the wild, the Asiatic Cheetah is on the brink which begs the question of why funding would be pulled at such a critical moment for the species.
Because heavy-handed sanctions prevented the transfer of funds to environmental projects in Iran, the United Nations Development Programme was vital to supporting the Asiatic Cheetah project. “…because as a UN agency it was able to get money into Iran relatively easily. “Its aid was crucial,” said Williams (conservation biologist Sam Williams of the University of Venda, in South Africa)“
In Twitter conversation with UN Resident Coordinator in Islamic Rep. of Iran, Gary Lewis, he denied that the UNDP pulled funding despite numerous media outlets from People to Huffington Post to The Guardian using this wording in addition to ‘cutting funding’, etc. When asked what were these ‘clear reasons’ given, no response was provided as of publishing this post.
According to the Tehran Times, “The ultimate goal was to achieve sustainability of protected areas and the Asiatic Cheetah population within them. The project built on the achievements of the CACP Phase I by strengthening the current protected area management in selected cheetah habitats.” Can it say this has been achieved?
“Lack of funding means extinction for the Asiatic cheetah, I’m afraid,” the Iranian conservationist Jamshid Parchizadeh said.
Meanwhile, conservationists have published a plea for emergency assistance in saving the Asiatic Cheetah from extinction. It can be done, just look to China’s example of bringing back the panda from the brink:
“Iran should instead look to the example of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in China. The Chinese government and its partners undertook to develop breeding programmes in the 1950s and to protect bamboo-forest habitats in the 1980s. The strategy was so successful that pandas were last year downlisted from endangered to vulnerable.”
Read the open letter in full here: Save Iran’s Cheetah from Extinction
Read the Iranian Cheetah Society’s Open Letter in the recent IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group’s Newsletter
Find out more from NGOs in Iran: