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Cheetah family still thriving in Iran - All three cubs have reached 1 year old

15/05/2013 07:44:11

The cubs were first photographed in the summer of 2013. It is very unusual for all the cubs in a litter to survive. Photo courtesy of the Iran Cheetah Society.

Cubs first recorded in summer of 2012
May 2013. A large family of Asiatic cheetahs has been photo-trapped in Miandasht Wildlife Refuge in north-eastern Iran. The group was photographed as part of ongoing intensive monitoring of the cheetahs of Miandasht Wildlife Refuge by camera trap.

The cheetah family consists of an adult female mother three adolescent cheetahs. At least two of the youngsters are males, but the third has not yet been positively labelled. The animals were recorded on several occasions while coming to water sources to drink.

Survived amongst livestock
This female cheetah now counts as an experienced mother or "super-mum", having successfully raised all her three cubs to the age of one. Scientists are surprised how this large group survived among herds of livestock; some herders have traditional grazing rights within the area's pastures in winter.

African cheetahs have very high infant mortality
All cheetahs face various challenges during their first year of life, decreasing their chance of survival. Intensive studies in Africa have revealed high juvenile mortality among cheetahs, sometimes as high as 95% before they become independent from mother (Usually at about 17 months) in eastern Africa. However, the difficulty in locating and studying the Asiatic cheetahs has not allowed a proper investigation on their reproductive ecology in Iran.

Increase in prey
The successful raising of all three juveniles into their second year has been made possible by recent enhanced protection measures put in place by the Norkh Khorasan Department of Environment. Presently, gazelle population has reached to more than 600, twice population size of early 2000s. As a consequence, neighbouring reserves around Miandasht now should expect the cheetahs, as they will leave their mother in summer/autumn of 2013 to find new ranges. As Miandasht is close to the Turkmenistan border, trans-boundary dispersal is entirely plausible.

Camera trap off-season
After halting camera trapping during the winter 2012-2013 as the presence of livestock makes it impractical, the Iranian Cheetah Society (ICS), Iranian Department of Environment, and Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) are re-establishing the monitoring program by means of equipping all of the areas water sources with digital camera traps in an effort to acquire proper shots of the young cheetahs in order to develop a national photo ID for each individual. These IDs will help scientists understand the cheetah's ecology and movements.

The cheetah cubs were first seen in summer of 2012 - Click here to see more about the cheetah cubs in Iran 


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