In Iran, endangered Asiatic cheetah dies at 10 months old

February 28, 2023 GMT

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s only Asiatic cheetah cub died Tuesday despite days of treatment for kidney failure, local media reported.

Pirouz, 10 months old, had been the only survivor of his litter of three endangered Asiatic cheetahs. He was the subject of widespread discussion online. The semiofficial Tasnim News Agency reported Tuesday that days of treatment had failed to save him.

“I apologize on behalf of the team since we failed to save his life,” the agency quoted Omid Moradi, the head of Tehran’s central vet hospital.

Pirouz and his littermates were the first Asiatic cheetahs born in captivity in Iran. They were born in the Touran wildlife refuge in Semnan province under close monitoring by Iran’s environmental agency.

Iran has long tried to save Asiatic cheetah, one of the world’s critically endangered species. The United Nations is helping the government step up efforts to rescue the species.

The Asiatic cheetah, an equally fast cousin of the African cat, once ranged from the Red Sea to India. Its numbers have dwindled over the past century to an estimated 50 to 70 animals remaining in Iran. That’s down from as many as 400 in the 1990s. Its numbers plummeted due to poaching, hunting its main prey — gazelles — and encroachment on its habitat.

Cheetahs also have been hit by cars and killed in fights with sheep dogs, since shepherds have permits to graze their flocks in areas where the cheetahs live.