Ministry Pledges to Make Semnan Road Safe for Cheetahs

More than 60% of Asiatic cheetah roadkills in the past 10 years have occurred on the dangerous Abbasabad-Shahroud road
Only about 50 cheetahs remain in the wild, all of which are in Iran. (Photo: Masoud Mokhtari)Only about 50 cheetahs remain in the wild, all of which are in Iran. (Photo: Masoud Mokhtari)

The Ministry of Roads and Urban Development has pledged to make the Abbasabad-Shahroud road safe for cheetahs in Semnan Province, an official at the the Department of Environment said.

Speaking to ISNA, Majid Kharrazian Moqaddam, the head of DOE's Wildlife and Biodiversity Office, said the ministry has promised to allocate 10 billion rials ($266,000) for the purpose.

"Road accidents are the second most common cause of death of Asiatic cheetahs, second only to poaching," he added.

The deadly route forms part of the busy Tehran-Mashhad road.

According to DOE, more than 60% of all cheetah road deaths in the past 10 years have been caused by accidents on this route.

Moqaddam said extensive studies have been conducted in the region and suggestions on how to make the road safer for cheetahs have been submitted to the ministry.

"Similar studies have been conducted in Yazd Province, but we had to postpone studies in Fars Province to later this year due to lack of funds," he added.

The official criticized the lack of environmental assessment studies in road construction projects, arguing that these studies help protect animals and are cost-effective.

"In the past, no attention was paid to the environmental impact of development projects; now we're paying the price," Moqaddam said.

With only about 50 cheetahs left in the wild—all of which are in Iran—every death reduces the population by 2%.

In Iran, the cheetah’s dramatic population decline is attributed to a host of factors, including poaching, road accidents and loss of habitat of two gazelle species, which it preys on.

In addition to manmade threats, the Asiatic cheetah’s survival is impacted by larger predators. Despite being fast, the cheetahs lack physical strength, rendering them vulnerable to larger animals in a face-off.

Found mainly in Iran’s vast central desert, the animal is also threatened by the country’s prolonged struggle with drought and water shortage.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists Asiatic cheetah as a critically endangered species, the highest risk category assigned by IUCN for wild species, which means it is facing the risk of extinction in the wild.

In an effort to raise public awareness and sensitivity for the preservation of the species, the government has sought to turn Asiatic cheetah into a national symbol. The appearance of an image of the animal on the national football team’s jersey is but one example.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints