A female Asiatic Cheetah named 'Dalbar' in Pardisan Park in Tehran, Iran on October 10, 2017. Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty

With fewer than 50 Asiatic cheetahs left in Iran, and the United Nations pulling funding from a protection plan at the end of December, it may be the end of the line for this creature.

“Lack of funding means extinction for the Asiatic cheetah, I’m afraid,” Iranian conservationist Jamshid Parchizadeh said to the Guardian. “Iran has already suffered from the loss of the Asiatic lion and the Caspian tiger. Now we are about to see the Asiatic cheetah go extinct as well.”

The U.N.’s Development Program announced its withdrawal from the Conservation of the Asiatic Cheetah Project last month. Over its history, the U.N. had given the program roughly $800,000.

It said that the government of Iran is capable of taking care of the cheetah. Iran’s Department of the Environment will now be the main body helping keep the cheetah alive, but the head of the department had already said the creature is “doomed to extinction,” according to Nature Magazine.

The Asiatic cheetah is smaller and paler than its African counterpart. Both animals rely on speed to hunt down prey. The Asiatic cheetah had once roamed all over Asia but is now confined to a few small pockets of Iran. The cheetahs were eradicated from India where they were hunted for sport, and the growth of farming in the 19th and 20th century hurt their population. Even in Iran farmer’s will still kill the rare animal because they occasionally hunt down livestock.

Economic sanctions against Iran have also complicated the matter — the U.N. was one of the few entities that could easily get money into the country.

“Iran has faced heavy international economic sanctions since 1980, and international agencies have been encountering a lot of problems transferring money into the country for many years,” said conservation biologist Sam Williams of the University of Venda to the Guardian. “The crucial point is that that money could have been used for the implementation of conservation strategies.”

A letter published in the Fall edition of Cat News Magazine called on Iran to take conservation of the animal seriously, lest it becomes a failure.

“Without a country-scale rigorous conservation effort that puts its goal to solely, and urgently, preserve the cheetah population and its habitat, the Asiatic cheetah will soon be a conservation failure story,” read the letter to the editor.