A train driver has been hailed by the Iranian conservationists for saving the lives of two cheetahs when his train was about to hit them on Mashhad-Tehran railroad recently. Hossein Zarei, the alertness locomotive driver, spotted two glowing eyes on the railroad not so far away from the southern borders of Miandasht Wildlife Refuge, one of the key cheetah reserves in northeastern Iran. He soon realized that these are indeed two large spotted cats apparently caught in the glare of the train lights. Hossein used the train horn to frighten away the cats, turned off the locomotive lights for a few seconds, and tried to slow down the train. Fortunately, the large cats could escape the scene as a result of Hossein’s reaction. He then could clearly see two cheetahs were running from the railroad. Thus, Hossein quickly informed local wildlife authorities in the nearby city.
The area where this incident has been reported falls between North Khorasan and Semnan provinces, and is likely to be part of a movement corridor for cheetahs between Miandasht Wildlife Refuge and Touran National Park. During the last decade at least 11 Asiatic cheetahs has been killed in the Iranian roads. Loss of routes of connectivity is believed to threaten the Critically Endangered Asiatic cheetahs in Iran.