Cheetah Cub in Rehabilitation

The precious female cheetah cub is left in the care of DOE in Pardisan Park
The cub was discovered in the smugglers' hideout in Tehran. The cub was discovered in the smugglers' hideout in Tehran.
Hopes have been rekindled that it will manage to mate with Koushki and reproduce

A female Asiatic cheetah cub, which was discovered during a police raid on the smugglers' hideout in Tehran, has been transferred to Pardisan Park research center.

Speaking to ISNA, Naqi Mirzakarimi, head of protection unit at the Department of Environment, said arrangements have been made to permanently keep the animal in a safe place in the park.

"So far three offenders involved in the smuggling have been arrested and a fourth suspect is wanted by police," Mirzakarimi said, adding that the culprits have been referred to judicial authorities and the details of the case will be released once the investigations are complete.

There is medical evidence that the cheetah cub had been in captivity for at least three months and suffers from malnutrition.

According to Iman Memarian, veterinarian at the research center, the baby cheetah, named "Iran", carries no physical injury and is expected to gradually recover from stress and weakness in about a month.

Cheetah cubs usually spend 18 months with their mother before they are competent enough to live independently in the wild.

Iran, however, was apparently captured at a very young age and therefore does not possess the know-how to live in her natural habitat now.

"The cub is not ready to be released, so she will share an artificial habitat with Delbar and Koushki, the other Asiatic cheetahs kept at the park," Memarian said.

  Hopes of Breeding

Being female, Iran is likely to be able to mate with the male animal now inhabiting Pardisan.

Koushki was left in the care of DOE in 2007 by a conscientious hunter who had bought it from other hunters who intended to kill him. Four years later, a female cheetah cub found by a shepherd in Shahroud, Semnan Province, was also delivered to DOE. She was named Delbar and was moved to Pardisan to meet her potential mate.

Although a breeding program started by Houman Jokar, head of Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project, and Sean McKeown, a renowned cheetah breeding specialist, since Delbar joined Koushki in the park, efforts have so far been unsuccessful. Delbar became pregnant in the summer of 2015 but lost her cub.

Reportedly, experts have been working on the details of artificial insemination with specialists from France and Germany.

With the arrival of Iran, hopes have been rekindled that it will manage to mate with Koushki and reproduce, although, according to Memarian, it takes the cub almost a year to physiologically get ready for mating.

The Asiatic cheetah that once roamed lands from the Arabian Peninsula to India only survives in Iran today, but its population is shrinking in its last home that currently has fewer than 50 of them.  

Despite measures to protect the critically endangered animal, the species is still threatened by multiple factors, including the destruction of habitats, road construction, lack of prey and the presence of cattle and sheepdogs, among others.

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