With long legs and a sleek, aerodynamic body, the cheetah is built for speed and can reach over 70 mph, making it the world’s fastest land animal. Despite being unique, a keystone predator in nature, and a charismatic and popular ambassador for all African wildlife in captivity, the cheetah has experienced a remarkable decline in numbers due to habitat loss and persecution. The cheetah currently is found in pockets mostly across southern and eastern Africa with perhaps a total population ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 individuals. The greatest numbers of cheetah can be found in Namibia.
Conservation in Action
The cheetah is protected under national legislation throughout most of its range. Additionally, non-governmental organizations have been developed that are dedicated to its survival. Besides studies done in the field (ranging from population surveys to improved monitoring of disease status), there has been significant emphasis on building community awareness, especially educating local people to live in harmony with this predator.
Institutional members of the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) have decades of experience managing and breeding cheetahs, as well as conducting research and supporting, wild populations. Currently, C2S2 has two areas of focus. The first area is to increase scientific knowledge, especially in helping and improving reproductive health and success; and the second is to understand the factors that determine why some cheetahs reproduce and others do not. C2S2 is exploring innovative ways to use its collective resources to create the first-ever, self-sustaining cheetah population that can serve as (1) insurance for wild counterparts, (2) ambassadors to educate the public, and (3) a source of new biological information.