What is the Project About
The Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) is a long standing initiative between Iran’s Department of Environment, UNDP and a number of committed international partners, namely the Wildlife Conservation Society, Panthera, Cheetah Conservation Fund and IUCN’s Cat Specialist Group. Phase I of the project was co-funded by the Global environment Facility and was implemented from 2001 to 2008. Phase II implementation incepted in the summer of 2010. An opportunity has now arisen to collaborate with Iran’s DoE to achieve two parallel goals.
Addendum to phase II will be aimed at assisting the DoE to fulfil its commitments to UNCBD under Iran’s Programme of Work on Protected Areas (PoWPA). The extended phase II will aim to remove a number of barriers currently hampering sustainable PA management.
The single most important barrier pertains to Protected Area (PA) financial sustainability and the addressing of PA financing gaps. As pilots will be selected in cheetah habitats, the ultimate goal of this Addendum would be to achieve the sustainability of PAS as well as augment the sustainability of CACP results. Thus, the Addendum will build on the substantial achievements of CACP through strengthening the current PA management regime in select cheetah habitats.
The addendum will identify plausible livelihood options that could achieve a higher level of integration of local communities as active and long-term partners in PA management. It will aspire to generate representative local enterprises with access to capital and markets and empowered local communities as local partners of DoE in conservation activities. In this respect, systematic capacity development will target DoE provincial staffers as well as the main beneficiaries of wildlife and ecosystem conservation – the local communities.
The presence of the private sector will also be assessed as an enabler with regard to access to capital and markets. The crux of the project’s philosophy would therefore be to design and implement sustainable and biodiversity-friendly livelihood options for local communities, where possible bringing to bear the resources of the private sector.
The project will therefore continuously weigh and try to strike a balance between the conservation needs of the pilot PAs and sustainable poverty alleviation within PAs. This new approach would be vital to secure the long term survival of endangered wildlife in pilot areas and the emergence of a modern conservation paradigm, based on which the interests of all stakeholders are fully considered and secured through the design of appropriate incentive mechanisms as well as commensurate conservation obligations.
The Addendum will also aspire to implement a climate resilient rangeland management model. Among natural or non-anthropogenic threats, drought is the principle danger, exacerbating overgrazing and further limiting ungulate carrying capacity.
What Have We Accomplished So Far
Importantly, Phase II implementation extended protection of cheetah and its associated biota to 10 habitats in close collaboration with provincial DoE offices. Augmented protection was achieved through implementing a number of measures as follows:
- Augmented and improved logistical capabilities
- Enforcement of grazing laws and regulations as well as taking steps to alter the grazing patterns in the 10 target habitats in an effort to rehabilitate rangelands for use of the cheetah prey
- Procurement of grazing and water rights within the PAs. This has been an important project activity to ensure that key exposed habitats are secured and to eliminate the threat of poachers that might visit these habitats under the pretext of water and grazing rights
- Increased control over the issuance of permits for development projects
- Submission of proposals to the Environment High Council in an effort to upgrade a number of select habitats to higher protection designations
A number of activities have also targeted at biological research and awareness raising:
- Maintenance of a central, up-to-date database in a universally accepted format that allows for easy search and retrieval
- On-going assessment and compiling of current information and capacity, thereby identifying gaps
- Conducting a series of provincial workshops with relevant organizations (Ministries of. Industry and Mine, Agriculture as well the Council for Planning and Development) to refine the data and fill in the gaps
- Identifying cheetah ranging behavior and corridors through research techniques, including socio-economic questionnaires, radio-telemetry etc., starting field projects in southern core areas
- Developing and applying a protocol for extensive monitoring of cheetah across central and eastern Iran
- Developing and applying protocols for a semi-quantitative monitoring of prey species (gazelle, wild sheep, wild goat) in the following sites: (1) Naybandan, (2) Kavir, (3) Touran, (4) Dare Anjir, Bafq and Kalmand, and (5) Abbas Abad and SiahKouh
- Production and distribution of site-specific educational materials by partners in the target communities
- Promoting public awareness using existing or creating new opportunities (e. g. commemorating the Cheetah Day)
- Transforming the Asiatic Cheetah into a national symbol by proposing the cheetah as the logo for Iran’s National Football team
- Implementing the community-based reserve over the cheetah non-protected habitats in Yazd province
- Perform cheetah habitat modeling by maximum-entropy approach for species (Maxent) on the basis of CACP data base
- Inclusion of cheetah education material in books prepared for primary and secondary junctures of public education