When you spot a cheetah in Africa you can consider yourself really fortunate, and envied by many. Sadly, there are only an estimate of 8 000 cheetahs remaining in the world. They are known for their speed but unfortunately, they are battling to keep up their population numbers in the wild. Why are their numbers dropping even faster than they can run?
The Fight for Habitat
The sad truth is that we as humans are the main reason that our beloved spotted felines are on the verge of extinction. Like other wildlife, cheetahs face habitat loss due to urban sprawl as open lands are taken over by humans. These environments were the cheetahs’ rightful homes, but they are often killed as people move in, seeing the cats as a threat to them or their livestock.
Fur Coat Envy
Cheetahs are also hunted for their popular spotted fur. This practice has occurred for hundreds of years and still takes place on a high scale today. Although we may like to believe that modern humans see more value in the animal than the fur which belongs to it, we are disappointingly mistaken. Cheetahs are targeted for their fur for traditional and modern fashion.
Eds note: Please… animal print is so last season.
Cubs are Easy Targets
Scarily there is also a high rate of cub mortality. Their fellow wildlife “friends” (wild dogs, lions, leopards, and hyenas) are responsible for 50 to 75 percent of all cheetah cubs’ deaths before they are 3 months old. Other factors also include disease and the scarcity of prey.
The Value of a Cheetah
Cheetah conservation is vital to nature as cheetahs play pivotal roles in African ecosystems. They prey on the vulnerable, such as the old, injured, sick, or very young, leaving more food for the rest of the animals.
The Cheetahs Move Back to Malawi
It has been about 20 years since cheetahs were last seen in Malawi. Even more shockingly, it has been close to a century since cheetahs were documented in Liwonde National Park. That, however, has just happily changed.