Unite for the Asiatic Cheetah

Jun 14, 2014


There is an old Iranian saying which goes “khastan tavanestan ast” – it means “where there’s a will there’s a way”. 

This is the simple slogan behind the two Asiatic Cheetah Public Service Announcements (PSA) which UNDP together with Iran’s Department of Environment (DoE) produced to urge the citizens of the world – and especially the citizens of Iran – to unite to protect this endangered species.

Last night at the landmark Milad Tower in Tehran the two PSAs were unveiled with the presence of the Deputy of Natural Resources and Biodiversity of the DoE, Dr. Ahmad-Ali Keykhah and the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Gary Lewis along with the media.

  Iran is the last habitat of the precious Asiatic Cheetah. It is now estimated that approximately 50 Asiatic Cheetahs are living in the wild in Iran. But the numbers appear to be rising again.

A few months ago, in preparation for the World Cup competition which is just starting, the Asiatic Cheetah was formally appointed as the symbol of Iran’s national football team – Team Melli.  The face of the Asiatic Cheetah was imprinted on Team Melli’s jersey.  The launch precedes the display of the two PSAs in various locations in Iran and at events connected to the World Cup.

Following the World Cup, the PSAs will be adjusted to address the school children and others as part of a campaign adaptation process. We ask you to join the cause by watching, sharing and raising awareness for #Unite4AsiatiCheetah campaign on social networks. 

Iran is the last habitat of the precious Asiatic Cheetah.  Even up to half a century ago, the  species was widespread across the Indian subcontinent and Central and South-West Asia. 

  Behind the scene at the recording of Unite for the Asiatic Cheetah PSA with actress Ms. Mahtab Keramati and Directors Farid Hamedi and Behzad Hajkandi. Photo credit: Behdad Shirmohammadi

Recognizing the problem, and in a move designed to save these emblematic cats, a solution to the problem started over a decade ago.  That was when the Government of Iran – together with UNDP and a number of concerned national and international NGOs – started the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah (CACP) project.  The year was 2001.  It is now estimated that approximately 50 Asiatic Cheetahs are living in the wild in Iran.  But the numbers appear to be rising again as a result of the establishment of protected areas and the vigilance of game guards who try to protect the animals from poachers.

Speaking during the ceremony Dr. Keykhah said: “Our goal with the production of these PSAs is to capture the hearts of the people and make them realize that they too have a responsibility in the conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah.  The species – in my opinion – is the wealth of our nation and we – together – need to do everything in our power to reverse its destiny.”

 Day 2 of the Unite for the Asiatic Cheetah PSA production. Photo credit: Behdad Shirmohammadi

Also speaking at the event was Mr. Lewis who first emphasized Iran’s environmental challenges.  “The five main environmental threats that Iran is facing are water, land degradation, sustainable energy, air pollution and biodiversity loss. Fixing these problems are the keys to Iran’s future environment.”  He went on to add: “The United Nations is extremely pleased and happy about the level of visibility the leadership of this country is giving to these environmental challenges.  Knowing about the problem is the first step in solving it.”

He concluded his remarks by noting: “No matter how far we go in the forthcoming World Cup, both Team Melli and the fight to save the Asiatic Cheetah will be a victory for us all.”

Then the two PSAs were screened for the audience.

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