Cheetahs are beautiful, naturally shy and non-confrontational animals. These cats are born to run, that’s why they are the fastest land mammals. Cheetahs are found primarily in the eastern and southern ranges of Africa south of the Sahara Desert, with small populations in North Africa and Iran.
But these amazing animals are in trouble because they range far beyond protected areas and are coming increasingly into conflict with humans. 77% of their habitat falls outside protected areas, they roam across lands as they are one of the widest-ranging animals.
Cheetahs are rapidly heading towards extinction according to the report published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The report estimates that there are just 7,100 Cheetahs now left in the wild.
More than half of the world’s remaining cheetahs live across six countries in Southern Africa.
There are just 50 Cheetahs left in whole Asia according to the estimation of researchers. They live in Iran.
In Zimbabwe, the cheetah population is 170, there were 1200 cheetahs 16 years ago, this is because of major changes in land tenure.
Researchers say that the threats facing the fabled predator have gone unnoticed for far too long.
Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked
Our findings show that the large space requirements for the cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought.
– Dr Sarah Durant, from the Zoological Society of London, UK
The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing protected areas alone is not enough.We must think bigger, conserving across the mosaic of protected and unprotected landscapes that these far-reaching cats inhabit, if we are to avert the otherwise certain loss of the cheetah forever.
– Dr Kim Young-Overton from Panthera
Another big reason for declining number of these cats is illegal trafficking of cubs to Gulf countries. Those illegal traffickers sell young cheetah cubs on the black market and fetch up to $10,000.
Estimated 1,200 cheetah cubs have been illegally trafficked out of Africa over the past 10 years, around 85% of them died during the journey.
To fully recognize the scale of the threat that the cheetah now faces, the report is calling on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to change the categorization of the fastest animal on its Red List from vulnerable to endangered.