Two cheetah statues were built in Bafq, central Iran. Opened by the city religious leader at the entrance square of the city, a crowd of local and national high-ranked people, local community representatives and common people participated in the opening ceremony. The statues were designed in a joint effort organized by the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) with close partnership of the Iranian Department of the Environment (DOE) and the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP). The Central Iron Ore Company supported financially this advertising project.
As one of the main habitats for the cheetah in Iran, Bafq has had the highest cheetah mortality due to human causes since a few decades ago. In 1994, a family of cheetahs were attacked by local people and one of the cubs was rescued, transferred to Tehran Pardisan Zoo, named as Marita. In 2003, 3 small cubs were burnt by a local herder because he supposed the animals can be an enemy to their livestock in future.
Accordingly, the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) started an educational project to increase awareness among local people in 2003. In 2005, the Iranian Department of the Environment and UNDP/GEF Small Grant Program approved this effort to support it which is still ongoing. Building cheetah statues for one of the city’s main squares has always been considered as one of the main and final steps for a public awareness campaign in the city. However, in order to guarantee a long-term impact on local communities, local people were educated in various capacity building plans which taught them the area is hosting one of the last populations of the Asiatic cheetahs in the world. Finally, relevant local organizations finally decided to invest on 2 big cheetah statues for the city which was opened in mid-July 2009. This project is one of the first of its kind in the world which can have a great conservation impact for the future of wildlife, particularly in areas where predators live close to people.