Miandasht Wildlife Refuge is one of the key cheetah reserves in northeastern Iran. Monitoring of the reserves using camera-traps by ICS has revealed at least 7 cheetah individuals in this reserve, which is one of the largest known populations of the Critically Endangered Asiatic cheetah. ICS’ camera-traps have also documented the presence of at least two different cheetah families with 4 dependant cubs.
Every year during the autumn and winter seasons, a number of traditional pastoralists are permitted to graze their herd in a portion of Miandasht. These pastoralists use more than 35 shepherd dogs for their herds. Shepherd dogs are serious threats for cheetah cubs, as they can easily chase cheetah families and kill the cubs, as previously documented in different locations in Iran.
During the winter 2016, ICS biologists in collaboration with the local wildlife authority and local rangers in Miandasht, run a rapid awareness effort for about 90% of herders entered the reserve. With this effort, ICS biologists discussed with herders different aspects of livestock herding and potential threats to cheetahs in Miandasht, stressing on managing shepherd dogs in order to minimize the risk of encountering with cheetahs. Also, some gifts were presented to the herders with signs and photos of cheetahs, as a reminder for the fact that local herders can play an important role in conservation efforts for cheetahs in Iran.