Kingdom (Xinhua) -- Scientists are
calling for an urgent protection of cheetahs, as the world’s
fastest animal is on the brink of extinction due to habitat loss
and human activities, according to a study published Monday.
There are only 7,100 cheetahs worldwide, and their population
has declined rapidly since late 1990s, as human encroachment has
pushed the wide-ranging predator out of 91 percent of its
traditional habitat, said the study published on the journal
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In Zimbabwe, for example, the cheetah population declined
from around 1,200 in 1999 to just 170 in 16 years, said the
study led by Zoological Society of London, charitable
organization Panthera, and Wildlife Conservation Society.
Consequently, the cheetah should be re-categorized as an
"endangered" species instead of the less serious "vulnerable"
species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s
Red List of Threatened Species, the study said.
Cheetah is one of the widest-ranging carnivores, running
across lands far outside protected areas. About 77 percent of
cheetah habitats fall outside of protected areas, leaving these
big cats extremely vulnerable to human pressures, the study
"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," said Dr Sarah Durant from the
Zoological Society of London, a lead author of the report.
"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," Durant
Besides habitat loss, cheetahs have also suffered from
conflicts with humans, including illegal hunting and trafficking
of cheetah fur, illegal trade of cubs, loss of prey killed by
villagers for meat, as well as road accidents.
More than half of the world’s cheetahs live in southern
Africa, which is sparsely populated. Cheetahs have been
virtually wiped out in Asia, save for fewer than 50 in Iran,
according to the study.
"The take-away from this pinnacle study is that securing
protected areas alone is not enough," said Dr Kim Young-Overton,
director of Panthera’s Cheetah Program and author of the report.
"We must think bigger, conserving across the mosaic of
protected and unprotected landscapes that these far-ranging cats
inhabit, if we are to avert the otherwise certain loss of the
cheetah forever," she added.
giving cheetah "endangered" status, as its numbers crash
WINDHOEK (Xinhua) --
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), based in
Namibia, has called for the upgrading of cheetahs’ status from
vulnerable to endangered, as the big cat’s population shrinks
Dr. Laurie Marker, CCF founder and executive director, said
in a statement on Tuesday if nothing is done now to protect the
cheetah the world may lose the iconic big cat.
"We are sounding a loud warning cry, otherwise we may lose
the species during our lifetime," Dr. Marker said in the
statement released after the publication of a report titled
Disappearing Spots: The Global Decline of Cheetah and What It
Means for Conservation, published in the journal Proceedings of
the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Marker and Dr. Anne Schmidt-Kuentzel co-authored the
paper that estimates the remaining population of cheetahs in
Africa at 7,000 with a small number estimated to be less than 50
About a 100 years ago, the report said, the cheetah
population was estimated to be 100,000.
According to the report, the main reason for the dramatic
decline of the cheetah population is human encroachment, change
in land tenure, large scale fencing, political instability and
the insufficient protected area systems.
Dr. Marker also said in Zimbabwe, for example, cheetah
population declined by 85 percent in 15 years because of land
Dr. Schimdt-Kuentzel, CCF research geneticist and assistant
director of animal health and research, said in the statement
that cheetahs can reduce in numbers very drastically over a
short period of time.
"This fact needs to be taken into consideration when
assessing the cheetah’s status," Dr. Schimdt-Kuentzel said.