VOICES Ideas and Insight From Explorers
The cheetah’s speed is legendary. As possibly the swiftest mammal that has ever lived (extinct relatives of the cheetah were likely not as speedy), there is nothing on earth it cannot out-run. Nothing in nature, that is. Unfortunately, for all its extraordinary high-speed adaptations, the cheetah has no evolutionary solution for modern traffic. Among the many dangers faced by cheetahs, collisions with vehicles rank among the top threats to an especially endangered population: the unique Asiatic cheetahs of Iran.
Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, opposes the construction of a border wall that would disturb the natural movement and dispersal patterns of wildlife, including cougars, ocelots and jaguars, between Mexico and the United States. Fencing has already broken natural connections between wild cat populations in some areas of the border. Further fortification, as proposed by the Administration, would fragment wildlife populations already under pressure.
This week, National Geographic magazine published extraordinary new images of wild Asiatic cheetahs in Iran. That National Geographic was able to photograph these rarest of cheetahs is testament to 11 years of conservation work by the Iranian Department of Environment. As the only country on Earth that has managed to keep this remarkable cat alive, Iran deserves to be congratulated. (Photo by Frans Lanting, from the November 2012 issue of National Geographic Magazine.)