December 2007- Islamic council of five main villages inside Bafq Protected Area are organizing to train the shepherds and villagers about the critically Asiatic cheetah. These target settlements have been selected due to their vicinity to the cheetah habitat as well as their higher impact on human-induced mortality of the cheetahs in Bafq PA where is estimated to hold more than 10 animals. In cooperation with UNDP/GEF SGP, DOE and PTES, the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS) is educating different target groups in Bafq where holds the highest cheetah mortality in the country till end of 2008.
With respect to their continuous presence in the field, shepherds are considered as a significant target group which generally confuse the cheetah with other similar-sized carnivores, including wolf, leopard, striped hyena and even caracal and wild cat. They suppose the cheetah to be guilty in charge of any livestock depredation; but the species is rarely the main cause. After a year round human-carnivore assessment, it was concluded that the cheetah, wolf, golden eagle and caracal are the main threats to the herder’s ownership in five main villages. On the basis of results of conflict assessment, a specific Shepherds Training Course has been developed, in which they learn how to identify the cheetah as well as other carnivores, main causes of livestock depredation by carnivores and preventive measures to reduce the present conflict. The training course has been developed with collaboration of local NGOs and Islamic councils which play a significant role in this educational project.
Negotiations are undergoing with local governmental authorities to enforce livestock insurance program which can compensate a proportion of herders’ loss to the carnivores, including the cheetah. Inside each village, a core group of cheetah friends has been formed which they had received a preliminary capacity building in order to be able to educate other people as well as gather and verity cheetah events, such sighting, depredation, mortality, etc. For instance, a cat was found dead in November floating inside a village pool which was supposed to be a cheetah. Fortunately, the case was immediately reported to the latter group. They visited the site and verified the animal as a wild cat resembling to a cheetah due to its spotted pattern.
Eurasian lynx on wild sheep kill in Anguran Wildlife Refuge, western Iran (