Say the word Cheetah and many people recall the chimpanzee sidekick in several Tarzan flicks. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The endangered animal resembles a leopard but possesses dog-like characteristics, often trained for hunting antelope and the like. A highly comprehensive study focusing on the large and fast cat with original habitat in Africa revealed fast decreasing cheetah population worldwide.
The revelation was made by Dr. Sarah Durant, lead author and Project Leader for the Rangewide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dog. Durant said that findings of the elusive cat had been difficult to gather.
The Zoological Society of London, which is dedicated to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats, tweeted that “estimates indicate just 7,100” of the large cat species remain in the wild. The findings unearthed show that among the reasons for the diminishing species are the complex range of threats that the animal has been facing, rendering it more susceptible to extinction than previously thought.
Moreover, there is also a large space requirement for the cheetah.
The Mad Dash for Cheetah Conservation
The study author disclosed that the conservation program has collaborated with range state governments and the cheetah conservation community to set into motion a comprehensive framework for action to curb the decreasing cheetah population. Such a move, however, requires funds and other resources for implementation.
Massive donations from ultra-high net worth individuals and organizations will immensely help. About 77 percent of habitat of the world’s fastest cat falls outside wildlife reserves or other protected areas.
Therefore, it has become a challenge for governments and villages to promote tolerance for a carnivore and enforce protective measures for the species. Ensuring that protected areas are secure, however, is not enough, as Panthera Cheetah Programme Director Dr. Kim Young-Overton noted.
Apart from habitat loss, cheetahs have continually faced attacks from villagers and other preying creatures killed by people for their meat. There is also the illegal trade in cheetah cubs, trafficking of cheetah skins and other external threats.
A UK publication confirmed this when it tweeted that the decreasing cheetah population is a “result of poaching and the trade in exotic pets.”
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