The Cheetah population is crashing, the species is in crisis. This statement fills us with great sadness; another iconic animal is heading to towards extinction.
When we heard the news, it sent shivers down our spines. We are privileged to have spent time watching and photographing this truly wonderful big cat. We had a close encounter while photographing a female Cheetah, who decided that it was a good idea to use our Land Rover bonnet as a look out point.
It comes as no surprise that Cheetahs are coming into conflict with humans. They require a vast amount of space. A male Cheetah’s home range can be as large as 195 km². As the human population grows and requires land, Cheetahs loose out.
Cheetahs are slow to reproduce, it takes 18 months to raise cubs and perhaps 90% of them don’t survive. Their hunting technique is unusual and is something that has to be learnt from the mother. They actually trip the prey up with a tap to the back leg before taking a strangle hold to suffocate it. It is life in the wild, fascinating to watch.
An overview of a recent report published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Estimates are that there are 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild. In 1975 there were approximately 14,000, that’s a decrease of 50% in 40 years.
Scientists feel that a more integrated approach to conservation is needed, whereby local communities are encourage to protect this species and coexist with animals for the benefit of both humans and animals alike.
A final thought, the Authors of the report hope the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) will take heed of the report’s findings and act in reclassifying the Cheetah from vulnerable to an endangered species, before we lose the fastest land animal forever.