What we do

Cheetah Initiative

The Asiatic cheetah is critically endangered (IUCN Red List), with the last 70-110 individuals surviving in Iran. Although there have been ongoing efforts to ascertain the status of this endangered species since 2001, its continued survival is still uncertain. The Persian Wildlife Foundation is currently working with Panthera, the leading international conservation organization solely focused on the big cats, the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Program (CACP) and others to help in the conservation and survivability of the cheetah in Iran.



Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus)

(Photo credit: H. Jowkar)


The current habitat range of the Asiatic cheetah (International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN))

Wild sheep, Bezoar Ibex, Goitered Gazelle and Jebeer Gazelle are the key prey species of cheetahs. The declining population of these ungulates is the main threat to the survival of Asiatic cheetahs.

Larestan Sheep Initiative

Two species of wild sheep are known to inhabit Iran; Ovis orientalis in the northwest and Ovis vignei in the northeast, with various hybrid populations spread across all mountainous habitats of the country. The wide-ranging diversity in morphological features across populations has always been one of the most controversial issues in scientific classification of wild sheep populations in Iran. Many of these populations have been rendered isolated due to human encroachment into their natural habitats through building roads, increase in human settlements and agricultural activities. This has significantly increased the vulnerability of the existing populations to the point that some populations may completely vanish before we even have time to truly understand the threats or achieve a taxonomic classification. Larestan sheep is one such population that draws serious conservation concerns and is considered one of the most vulnerable populations of sheep in Iran. This species is the southernmost wild sheep in the country and is generally considered to have the smallest body size among the wild sheep of the world.

The Persian Wildlife Foundation obtained an OFAC license and underwrote a survey and study of this unique and rare species. With the assistance of multiple conservation NGOs in Iran who conducted the field studies and observations, PWF is currently preparing a report for publication on the status of the Larestan sheep and continues its efforts to understand how to help the long term survival of this diminutive and rarely observed wild sheep.


Wild sheep (Ovis orientals)

(Photo credit: H. Moghimi)


Bezoar Ibex (Capra aegagrus) 

In Iran and throughout its range, over-exploitation, shrinkage in distribution, and habitat destruction and degradation threaten the survival of the Bezoar Ibex (Capra aegagrus). (Photo credit: H. Moghimi)

Iran has a unique geographic location where the fauna and flora of Europe, Africa and Asia all come together to create a spectacular diversity of species and landscapes. The topography of Iran consists of mountains essentially on all sides of the country framing several broad plains, some of which are deserts and others steppe. Most settlements and major agricultural areas border the steppe or desert areas as well as the foothills of the mountains. The climate in general is arid, but can also semi-arid, humid and semi-humid in certain regions. A small area, primarily bordering the Caspian Sea has significant forested areas as well as there being woodland areas in the Zagros mountain range in the western part of the country.