Today is International Cheetah Day – dedicated to my favourite animal. Wild cheetah numbers are declining. It is estimated there are only 10,000 left today. The main threats to the cheetah are habitat destruction, conflict with humans and the illegal wildlife trade. Cheetahs are already confirmed extinct in 25 countries – and most probably in a further 13 countries too.
Being quite low in the predator packing order – as they are build for speed, not strength – they also face a lot of danger from other predators – while you might think this is natural, it is not really so. With so little wild habitat left all these predators are squeezed into small and fragmented ranges so it’s increasingly difficult for cheetahs to avoid danger.
Lately there has also been a worrying trend of cheetahs being kept as pets by affluent people, especially in the Middle East – you might have seen these people showing them off on Instagram or news articles. What you might not know is that cheetahs are incredibly difficult to breed in captivity so more often than not these cheetahs are snatched from the wild. Sadly 5 out of 6 cheetahs die in transit due to the atrocious conditions they are transported in – it is nothing short of animal torture.
How can you help? The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) are doing a fantastic job in trying to conserve this beautiful cat. You can also help the very rare Iranian cheetah by supporting Panthera’s program: http://www.panthera.org/programs/cheetah/iranian-cheetah-project