We investigated the simultaneous and sympatric movements of a coalition of two Asiatic Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) and a Persian Leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor), two rare and highly mobile large felids in Bafq Protected Area, Iran. The animals were tracked with GPS collars for 4.5 to 9 months at a temporal resolution of eight hours. The cheetahs used lower elevations areas (average: 1600 m), and remained more distant to the surrounding highways of (average: 14.5 km) than the leopard (average: 1.8 km and 12.3 km, respectively). The leopard’s home range (408 km2) was almost entirely within the larger home ranges of the cheetah coalition (1,137 km2). We found that the leopard approached more closely to either of the cheetahs in the rare occasions when they were separated, though whether that was the response of the cheetahs to the leopard or vice versa is unknown. This interaction eventually culminated in the leopard killing one of the cheetahs, the first documented proof of lethal competition between cheetah and leopard in Iran. The combined risks of larger home ranges beyond the protected areas with higher probability of encounters with humans, of highway crossing, and predation by Persian Leopards contribute to the particularly precarious situation of the Asiatic Cheetah.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the Department of Environment (DoE) of the Islamic Republic of Iran (DoE), the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for developing and supporting the project ?Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah, its natural habitat, and associated biota in the Islamic Republic of Iran?. The Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) under the DoE and its partner the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) funded and collected the telemetry data used in the present study and kindly allowed its use here. FC was funded by Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology (MSRT). EG and WF were supported by the American National Science Foundation grant, ABI 1458748. The Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) provided the spatial layers used in the habitat selection analysis. We particularly thank Javad Najafi from CACP, for his cooperation and insightful comments on the cat?s spatial ecology. The Iranian Meteorological Organization (IRIMO) is acknowledged for providing the climate data.
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- Spatial ecology
- wildlife interaction
- wildlife tracking