Only twelve Asiatic cheetahs left in the world

Small Asiatic cheetah lies on his side while looking into the camera sticking his tongue out
Kooshki, a rescued Asiatic cheetah in his enclosure at Pardisan Zoo in Tehran, June 18, 2008, photo: Reuters/Caren Firouz

Iran is now home to the last twelve Asiatic cheetahs, deputy environment minister Hassan Akbari said Sunday, describing the animals’ situation as “extremely critical”.

In 2010, there were 100 Asiatic cheetahs in the country, now “only nine males and three females”, Akbari told news agency Tasnim. He said that the measures the country had taken to increase protection and reproduction were not enough to save the species.

He said the animals died from poaching, drought and car accidents, especially in the country’s central desert where the last of them live.

The Asiatic cheetah is slightly smaller and lighter than the ‘normal’ cheetah. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land animals, capable of reaching 120 kilometres (74 miles) per hour. They are still found in southern Africa but have practically disappeared from North Africa and Asia.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the Asiatic cheetah as critically endangered.

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