Cheetahs Are Racing Towards Extinction

By Menelaos Dendrinos, Xristos Zachiotis & Alkinoos Diamantopoulos (A Class)



The cheetah, the world’s fastest land animal, is headed towards extinction, largely due to unprecedented habitat loss. Scientists announced in a new study that only 7,100 cheetahs remain globally and that this speedy animal has lost 91 percent of its historic habitat range.

In Zimbabwe, where the cheetah distribution is well-documented, the population has plummeted from 1,200 individuals in 2000 to about 170 individuals in 2016, according to the study. Because of these dramatic losses, the study’s authors are urging scientists to change the cheetah’s conservation status from «vulnerable» (which means the animal is likely to become endangered unless threats improve) to «endangered» (which means the animal is facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild) on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, which tracks at-risk species.


The threats cheetahs face are largely caused by humans. These threats include overhunting by people, as well as habitat loss, the exotic-pet trade and illegal trafficking of cheetah parts, WCS said in a statement.

Although there are some conservation measures in places for cheetahs, such as protected areas, these cats are one of the world’s most wide-ranging carnivores, and 77 percent of their habitat falls outside protected areas, according to the study. These geographical complications make the cheetah difficult to protect, and so scientists are looking for a more holistic conservation approach.