As the world celebrates International Cheetah Day on Tuesday the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) reports that it’s cheetah conservation project, which was launched in 2011, has helped to protect the animal from extinction.
“The project was launched with the aim of increasing cheetah numbers, and maintaining their welfare and genetic integrity across southern Africa and beyond,” EWT said in a press release.
“Working hand-in-hand with game reserves across the country, we are proud to report that the project has been a great success. This is thanks to many private and state reserves creating safe space for cheetah populations,” EWT said.
Human pressures threatening cheetahs include retaliatory killings due to livestock attacks, snaring, poaching for skins, roadkill and loss of space due to agriculture and urbanisation.
These factors have contributed to the global declines in wild cheetah populations to the extent that cheetahs have become extinct in 94 percent of their historical range in the past 13,000 years.
“It is hard to believe that this species once roamed as far north as the former Soviet Union, and as far east as Myanmar (Burma). Almost a quarter of this global decline has taken place in the past 15 years,” EWT said.
In contrast, since the inception of the EWT’s cheetah conservation project, the population of this charismatic cat has grown from 217 wild cheetahs on 41 reserves, to 361 cheetahs on 57 reserves.
“We have also reintroduced cheetahs to Malawi and the Free State, where they had previously gone extinct. In fact, South Africa and Malawi are the only African countries with increasing cheetah populations, thanks to these efforts,” EWT said.
– ANA – Editing by Naomi Mackay