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Iran warned against cheetah transfer
Mon Apr 5, 2010 4:40PM
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The endangered species of Persian cheetahs are distributed over Iran's central deserts.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned that the transfer of the Persian cheetah from Iran to India could endanger the already threatened species.


According to Iran's Mehr News Agency, IUCN has opposed an Indian proposal to bring a few Persian cheetahs from Iran in return for giving a number of Asiatic lions to Iran.

Once a native of Iran, the Asiatic lion, or the Persian lion, survives today only in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India.

The Asiatic lions once ranged from the Mediterranean to the north-eastern parts of the Indian subcontinent, but excessive hunting, water pollution and decline in natural prey reduced their habitat.

Persian cheetahs are distributed over Iran's central deserts and are not capable of expanding their territory; therefore, their transfer could endanger the species, Mehr quoted an IUCN official as saying.

The Asiatic lions, on the other hand, are confined to the Gir Forest and their transfer to Iran could be useful, he added.

The IUCN official warned, however, that no decision could be made without a detailed study of whether the Asiatic lion could adapt to its new habitat.

Today, the Persian cheetah, the Eurasian lynx and the Persian leopard are the only remaining species of large cats in Iran with the once common Caspian Tiger and the Persian lion having already been driven to extinction.

AKM/HGH
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