Cheetahs – The New Luxury Pet in the Middle East

Owning cheetahs - a status symbol in the Middle East

Owning a cheetah has become a status symbol in the Middle East, according to the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), who warns their popularity as a “hot new luxury pet” is putting wild cheetah populations at greater risk – and possibly extinction.

People are paying as much as $10,000 for cubs. There has also been an increasing demand for cheetah-skin shoes.

Many of these cheetah “pets” have been illegally smuggled into the country from Somalia. Up to 70% of the cubs die before reaching the Middle East.

There are currently less than 10,000 cheetahs living in the wild – a 90% decline in population over the past 100 years.

Sources:
Extinction fears rise as cheetah becomes new luxury pet in Middle East” (Delhi Daily News)
Cheetah smuggling driving wild population to extinction, report says” (The Guardian)

 

 

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Asiatic Cheetah Family Spotted in Iran

asiatic cheetahs in iran

A family of Asiatic cheetahs has been spotted in Iran’s Turan national park.  The mother and four cubs were discovered by conservationists at the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation.

The Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) also called the Iranian cheetah, is listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The cat could once be found in regions throughout Southwest Asia, including India, Pakisan, Arabia and Afghanistan. Now, only a small population remains in Iran.

“Something that people rarely knew about a decade ago has now become a national cause for concern,” said Morteza Eslami, head of the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS). “When we spoke about Asiatic cheetahs in the beginning, people used to ask if we in Iran had any cheetahs. Now they are asking how many are left.”

The Asiatic cheetah population in Iran is currently estimated at 100. The Khar Turan National Park is located in Iran’s Semnan province. It is the second largest reserve in the country.

The cat’s prey consists mainly of wild sheep, goats and gazelle. Loss of prey is a key conservation concern for the cheetah, along with human conflict and hunting.

The Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) has been mapping the location of the species, collecting data on the cheetah’s habits, and assessing threats to the cheetah’s survival.

The ICS is a non-government organization working to save the “big five” carnivores in Iran, with a focus on the Asiatic cheetah.
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