Cheetahs Are Headed Toward Extinction As Their Population Crashes, Study Says
A new study about the world’s fastest land animal reports that only about 7,100 cheetahs remain in in the wild.
The majority of the decline has been in the past 100 years. According to the National Wildlife Federation, this number is down from an estimated 100,000 at the end of the 19th century.
The existing cheetahs reside mostly in Africa, with a small number of them living in Iran. Of the 18 groups of wild cheetahs that scientists have studied in Africa, 14 are decreasing.
To put it into perspective, Zimbabwe’s cheetah population has dropped from 1,200 to about 170 in just 16 years, which is a loss of 85% of cheetahs there.
“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,” study lead author Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London told USA Today. “Our findings show that the large space requirements for 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. We need to uplist cheetah threat status from vulnerable to endangered.”
Cheetahs suffer through habitat loss, attacks from villagers, loss of food to human hunting, illegal cheetah cub trade, trafficking of cheetah skins, and car accidents.