Russia-Iran tiger re-population project

Russia-Iran tiger re-population project (Wikipedia)

Iranian and Russian ecologists are planning a joint project to return Caspian Tigers and Asiatic Cheetahs to the wild in Central Asia. These big cats became extirpated some half a century ago – the Asiatic Cheetah from Russia and Caspian Tiger from Iran. Recent genetic studies have shown that the Amur (or Russian) Tiger is related and virtually identical to the extinct Caspian Tigers; thus, the Russians want to offer the Amur Tiger to Iran to repopulate the Caspian Tiger range in northern Iran. In exchange, Russia wants to acquire from Iran some critically endangered Asiatic Cheetahs to repopulate northern Caucasus region of central Asia, their last abode. There are many more Amur Tigers in the wild than the tiny numbers of surviving Asiatic Cheetah, and while there is a healthy population of Russian Tiger in the captive breeding program in zoos, there is no captive breeding population of the Asiatic Cheetah in any zoo. While discussing the prospects of reintroducing the cheetah in India, cheetah experts the world over have warned that no individuals from the critically low Asiatic Cheetah population in Iran should be withdrawn at this stage for any reintroduction experiment elsewhere, like the one proposed by Russia in exchange for relatively much more abundant Amur Tiger, since the limited gene pool of Asiatic Cheetah in Iran will suffer a tremendous blow.

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Iranian and Russian ecologists have announced ambitious plans to return Caspian Tigers as well as Asiatic cheetahs, which disappeared some half a century ago in their countries, to the wild.