Launched in April 2016, the third phase ICS’s nation-wide cheetah monitoring program is aiming to assess the status of cheetah populations in multiple key reserves in Iran. The ICS team has focused the present effort to maximize the chance of photo-capturing reproducing cheetahs, female cheetahs with cubs, by setting up the majority of available camera traps at water points. Water points act as a lure in the arid and hyper arid habitats of Asiatic cheetahs in north-eastern and south-central Iran. The current survey is the most intensive effort ever to monitor the Critically Endangered Asiatic cheetah in comparison to ICS’s 2012-2013 and 2014-2015 surveys.
During August-September 2016, the ICS researchers surveyed Naybandan Wildlife Refuge in South Khorasan Province . Out of 52 camera traps set up over the reserve, about 70% of them were placed at water points. In total, 31 cheetah photographs and 9 videos were obtained during the present survey. All the cheetah photographs were captured in Naybandan’s core zone. Analysing the cheetah photographs, the ICS researchers could identify two male cheetahs we have photographed in the reserve since 2012, known to us as ‘Arash’ and ‘Pouyan’.
Although no female cheetahs or families were photographed in this survey, Naybandan rangers have reported the presence of a cheetah family spotted during their routine patrolling in October 2016. Confirming the presence of this cheetah family would be exceptionally good news for the cheetah population in the south-central Iran.
ICS researchers will continue monitoring cheetah habitats by moving the camera traps to Miandasht Wildlife Refuge and Siah-kuh National Park in North Khorasan and Yazd Provinces, respectively. The third phase of ICS’s nation-wide cheetah monitoring program is running in collaboration with Iran Department of Environment (DoE) and Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP), and private donors.