(CTN News) – State media reported Wednesday that the second of three Asiatic cheetah cubs born in captivity in Iran has died in a blow to conservation efforts for the critically endangered subspecies.
According to Hassan Akbari, director of the environment department, “the cause of death of the cub is being investigated and the result will be announced after the post mortem.”
Only two weeks after the first cub from the litter died, the announcement was made.
A statement from the environment department said the cause of death was congenital malformation of the left lung.
It was the first Asiatic cheetah born in captivity when the cubs were born in the Touran Wildlife Refuge by caesarean section on May 1.
The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, capable of speeds up to 120 km/h (75 mph). It once roamed habitats from the eastern borders of India to the Atlantic coast of Senegal.
In parts of southern Africa, they are still found, but in North Africa and Asia, they have virtually disappeared.
IUCN reports that the Asiatic subspecies of Acinonyx jubatus venaticus are critically endangered.
The Asiatic cheetah can only be found in the wild in Iran. A United Nations-sponsored protection program was launched in 2001.
As of January, deputy environment minister Hassan Akbari said only a dozen individuals remain in the wild, down from an estimated 100 in 2010.
Their situation is “extremely critical”, Akbari said, adding that animals have been lost to drought, hunters, and car accidents.