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The Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), also known as the Iranian cheetah, is a critically endangered cheetah subspecies surviving today only in Iran. The Asiatic cheetah lives mainly in Iran's vast central desert in fragmented pieces of remaining suitable habitat. Although once common, the cheetah was driven to extinction in other parts of Southwest Asia from Arabia to India including Afghanistan. As of 2013, only 20 cheetahs were identified in Iran but some areas remained to be surveyed. The total population is estimated to be 40 to 70 individuals, with road accidents accounting for 40% of deaths. Efforts to stop the construction of a road through the core of the Bafq Protected Area were unsuccessful. In order to raise international awareness for the conservation of the Asiatic cheetah, an illustration was used on the jerseys of the Iran national football team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In 2015, it was estimated that approximately 50 cheetahs are living in the wild of Iran, however their numbers are rising. The Asiatic cheetah separated from its African relative between 32,000 and 67,000 years ago. Along with the Eurasian lynx and the Persian leopard, it is one of three remaining species of large cats in Iran today.



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