From: Reuters
Published March 2, 2007 12:00 AM

Rare Iranian Cheetahs Get Tracking Collars

NEW YORK -- Scientists said Thursday they have for the first time collared a pair of Iran's rare cheetahs with tracking systems which they hope will provide invaluable insights into the movements and range of the highly endangered animals.


The Asiatic cheetah once roamed the whole continent but is now confined to the harsh edge of Iran's Kavir Desert. Information on their movements is crucial as there are believed to be only 60 to 100 of the big cats left in the wild.


The two male cheetahs were captured and tranquilized by an international team of scientists in Iran's Bafgh Protected Area, the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement. They were then fitted with Global Positioning System collars.


"This is an amazing milestone in securing the long-term future for the Asiatic cheetah," said Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Dr. Luke Hunter, who led the team.


"We know very little about the important ecological needs of the species in Iran except that they require vast areas ... Understanding their movements as they travel between reserves is one of the first steps in establishing a plan to secure and connect the few remaining populations," he said.


Like its better-known African counterpart, the Asiatic cheetah is a sleek killing machine that can reach speeds of over 60 miles an hour in pursuit of its prey.


But conflict with livestock farmers and habitat destruction have pushed it to the brink of extinction.


Source: Reuters


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