as Asiatic cheetah captured on a camera trap in Iran

Jailed researchers trying to protect threatened cheetahs in Iran await verdict

After a year behind bars, four of the Iranian wildlife researchers accused of spying could face the death penalty. Supporters say they just want to protect Iran’s wildlife.

Wildlife researchers arrested in Iran were studying the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah. Elusive and rare, the only reliable way to document them is by camera trap. National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting used a high-resolution camera trap to get this photo, but the camera traps the arrested researchers relied on were primarily limited-range, low-resolution ones.
Photograph by Frans Lanting, National Geographic

As the cases of eight conservation scientists and researchers in Iran enter a critical phase, prominent wildlife scientists and NGOs around the world continue to rally in support of the accused.

The conservationists, from the Tehran-based Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation (PWHF), have been accused of using camera traps to spy—a claim being rebuffed on technical grounds by camera trap experts.

Those who know them paint a picture of a dedicated team of environmentalists, researchers, and scientists whose work to conserve critically endangered Asiatic cheetahs and other species has unwittingly been politicized, with tragic results.

In mid-January 2018, PWHF founder Morad Tahbaz was arrested. On January 24 and 25, eight others associated with the organization were also arrested: Managing Director Kavous Seyed-Emami,

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