Status of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus)

  • October 23, 1998
  • by Marker L. L.


The status of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) varies widely in the 32 countries listed in this report. All populations are classified as vulnerable or endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and are regulated by the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as Apeendix I. There are 13 countries listed in this report where the cheetah has become extinct during the past 40 years. The wild cheetah is nearly extinct in Asia, with approximately 100 cheetah surviving in small pocketed areas through Iran. Free-ranging cheetah inhabit a broad section of Africa inlcuding areas of North Africa, Sahel, eastern, and southern Africa. The two strong-holds remain in Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa and Nambia and Botswana in southern Africa. Although there has not been a comprehensive survey of African cheetah since 1975, there is a consensus that the cheetah population is declining throughout Africa. Since 1991, and up-dated regularly, Cheetah Conservation Fund has made contanct with researchers in cheetah range countries and has tried to keep communication open about cheetah populations in those countries. From the information gathered, it is approximated that less than 15,000 cheetah are found throughout their range, with a low estimate of 9,000 animals and an optimistic estimate of 12,000 animals. Perhaps for the cheetah, though, individual numbers of animals may not be the important poin, but the numbers of viable populations still existing. Viable populations may be found in only half or less of the countries where cheetahs still exist. The cheetah has suffered a devastating decline of available habitat and prey, both necessary for its survival. In addition, the species does not do well in protected game reserves due to competition with other large predators, and the captive population is not self-sustaining but is maintained through imports of cheetahs from the wild population.

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