A worrying article was published by The Guardian a few days ago. Robin McKie wrote that the United Nations had removed its support for Asiatic Cheetah conservation, potentially dooming the species to extinction.
There may be fewer than 50 Asiatic cheetahs remaining in the wild. This subspecies, Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, is slightly different than African cheetahs. It has lighter-colored fur than the latter, and is slightly smaller (McKie, 2017). Asiatic cheetahs used to inhabit parts of India, Southwest, and Central Asia, but now they only exist for sure in Iran (Jowkar et al., 2008). They may soon be extinct there as well.
Asiatic cheetahs are holding on by a thread: they are threatened by human hunting, habitat loss, and collisions with vehicles. Conservationists and Iranian citizens alike have tried nobly to reduce their decline, but protecting cheetahs is extremely difficult in Iran. The country is hampered by economic sanctions that reduce the amount of funding available for conservation.
One of the few agencies able to sidestep these sanctions is the UN. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had been helping to fund Asiatic cheetah conservation, but now they are pulling out. Their budget has been reduced, and they claim they have already made a positive difference for cheetahs in Iran.
According to conservationists, this might be the death bell for Asiatic cheetahs. The UNDP has said that Iran must now focus on cheetah conservation by itself, but as mentioned above Iran is not exactly swimming in disposable income.
Conservationists have stressed that the Iranian government must not give up on Asiatic cheetahs. There is still hope for the subspecies, but it is crunch time; something has to change now in order to save Asiatic cheetahs from extinction. Part of that change needs to be increased funding.