Known As: Cheetah.
Estimated numbers left in the wild: 10 000
Description: The cheetah is known as the fastest land mammal and can reach a top speed of 120 km/h accelerating from 0 – 100 km/h in three seconds.
Cheetahs have keen eyesight and an ability to spot prey at great distances. They have a spotted coat which assists them to blend into high, dry grass and hunt during daylight. Cheetahs have a distinctive narrow waist, a deep chest and a small head. Their short fur is tan with black spots measuring about 2 – 3 cm in diameter and their bellies are white with no spots. Their tails usually have 4 – 6 dark rings on it which end in a bushy white tuft. This large cat can weigh up to 72 kg, grow up to 150 cm long and 94 cm tall and their tails can measure an average of 70 cm in length. They can live between 10 – 12 years in the wild.
Location: Cheetahs can be found mainly in eastern and south-western Africa in countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Kenya and Tanzania. Smaller populations can also be found in North Africa and one population can be found isolated in Iran.
Cheetahs thrive in areas with open grassland or savannah, mountains and in areas with dense vegetation.
Threats: The biggest threat to cheetahs is habitat loss due to farming and their poor ability to live in nature reserves. Due to their speed they have to rest for up to 20 minutes after a kill and as a result run the risk of losing their prey to other predators such as leopards, lions and hyenas.
The mortality rate in cubs is also high due to cubs often being killed by predators when the mother is out hunting. Another challenge faced by cheetahs is low genetic variation which leads to reproductive issues, high infant mortality and susceptibility to diseases. This is caused by inbreeding and makes cheetahs vulnerable to climate changes.
Conservation efforts: Conservationists around Africa work to educate farmers on reducing contact between cheetahs and livestock and using guard dogs to protect their livestock instead of shooting the predators or using snares or poison.
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre
The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre runs a breeding programme to ensure the survival of cheetahs by maintaining the gene pool. They are a partner of the Cheetah Outreach Anatolian Guarding Dog Project to reduce conflicts between the predators, local people and their livestock.
Botswana Predator Conservation Trust
Botswana Predator Conservation Trust are studying cheetahs to understand how they survive in the presence of larger competitors and how their population dynamic functions in habitats with other predators.
Call from the Wild
Call from the Wild is an organisation started by Frankfurt Zoological Society which supports a variety of national parks throughout Africa to protect different endangered species including these predators.
Dambari Wildlife Trust
Dambari Wildlife Trust started a cheetah programme in Zimbabwe to educate local children and farmers. They conduct collaring for research purposes to understand the its behaviour and ecology.
Panthera is an American based organisation. Their main focus is to conserve the world’s largest wild cats including Cheetahs by supporting research and education programmes in different countries.
Wildlife Conservation Society
Wildlife Conservation Society was formed in 1895 with the aim of protecting 25 percent of the world’s biodiversity by promoting the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats. WCS has five zoos in New York.