Tehran, March 6, IRNA - Wildlife biologists have successfully fitted two Asiatic cheetahs in Iran with Global Positioning Satellite (GPS)collars which would allow scientists to better understand the needs of this critically endangered species and aid efforts to save it from extinction.
"These captures herald a new era in conservation in Iran," said biologist Hooshang Ziaee, director of the project in Iran.
He added "This is the first time we have successfully deployed these collars in Iran, and the data they provide will enable us to make very specific recommendations for conserving cheetahs for future generations."
This subspecies of cheetah, the fastest animal on the planet, once prowled open plains and deserts from the Red Sea to India, but today it is found only in small pockets of an extremely arid area on the edges of Iran's Kavir Desert in central province of Semnan.
Poaching of the cheetahs and their prey and the degradation of habitat caused by livestock grazing have drastically reduced their numbers.
According to Iran's Department of Environment there are only 60 to 100 cheetahs left.
Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in New York and Iran's Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project captured two male cheetahs and attached the 350-gram GPS collars to them.
The collars will allow the scientists to track the routes the cheetahs use to travel between protected areas and to study the features of the landscape that are key to the cheetahs' survival.
The scientists hope to collar four more cheetahs this winter before the desert heat becomes too intense to safely capture the animals
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