Report: Cheetahs Headed for Extinction
Decades from now, a kid will pick up a bag of Cheetos and wonder what that strange-looking animal is on its packaging. A quick Google search will reveal the answer: “Chester was a cheetah.”
The fate of the world’s fastest animal is all but sealed if the international community doesn’t act fast, according to a new report published in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). While the report does note that creating protected areas for the cheetah is key to its survival, it subsequently explains that the vast majority of the animals exist outside of such regions, and this has presented a problem for the many threats presented to them.
According to Defenders.org, the main threat is the loss of its habitat due to climate change and agriculture (i.e. we’re mainly to blame). Additional issues include a high cub mortality rate because of competition with other predatory beasts such as the lion and hyena, and as the BBC notes, the illegal trade in live cubs (for pets) in the Middle East.
The report estimates just over 7,000 cheetahs remain in the wild, and with that paltry sum in mind, is urging the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to change the animal’s status on its “red list” from “vulnerable” to “endangered.”
Read the full report here. To get a sense for just how fast the cheetah is, watch the video below from the Smithsonian Channel.