Five factors that are affecting our world's cheetah population.
What is Happening to Cheetahs?
Cheetahs are born with genetic issues.
Thousands of years ago many animals died off, including large populations of cheetahs. This caused a 'population bottleneck' where only a small population of cheetahs survived.
Because of this the cheetahs today have very similar genetic make-ups. This causes many genetic issues for cheetah populations. Cheetahs are more likely to get diseases, have trouble having cubs and less likely to adapt to their environments. Genetic diversity takes hundreds of years to develop and increasing cheetah populations helps with this issue.
Cheetahs have conflicts with humans.
Almost all of the wild cheetah population in Africa live on private farmland. This can cause cheetahs to come into direct contact with farmers and their livestock. Livestock are domesticated animals like, cattle and goats that are raised to help with work, provide food and materials.
When livestock is attacked and an animal is killed by a predator, cheetahs are blamed many of the times. Cheetahs have been killed and trapped by farmers for lots and lots of years.
Cheetahs are losing habitat.
Cheetahs need large areas of land to hunt, roam, seek water sources, keep distances from larger animals and humans. Mama cheetahs also need space to raise cubs safely.
The land cheetahs share with farmers has become more and more fenced and fragmented. This will increase as the human population grows and without large areas of land cheetahs will continue to struggle.
Cheetahs have less food to eat.
Cheetahs hunt, eat and survive on prey animals The prey animals feed and live on the vast grasslands of the savanna. The prey animals are losing space for grazing and habitat to live just like the cheetahs.
Thomson's gazelle, the cheetah's favorite food, are declining in population numbers and are considered a near-threatened species in the world (ICUN Red List Status, 2020).
Poaching, illegal wildlife & pet trade are affecting cheetah populations.
Poaching is the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of animals from the wild. Many cheetahs are been hunted and killed for their skins (pelts). This practice still exists in parts of the world where a cheetah skin is worth more than an alive cheetah.
In other parts of the world, cheetahs are wanted as pets. Illegal wildlife trade is creating devastating effects to the cheetah population as young cubs are taken straight out of their mother's nest to be sold as pets. These poached cubs are often smuggled to far away places and bought as pets and seen as symbols of wealth in some cultures.
The cubs are transported in small boxes, bins or containers and often do not survive the journey. If the cheetahs do survive the journey their life in captivity is very short. Cheetahs do NOT survive well in houses where they eat the wrong diets, live in small cages and have no place to run and roam. Cheetahs are NOT pets.
Illegal Wildlife & Pet Trade
Cheetah Conservation Fund: Somaliland
The Illegal Wildlife and Pet Trade continues to grow out of control and is causing a crisis for the cheetah population of the world.
Luckily the Cheetah Conservation Fund has set up a facility and safe houses in Somaliland to help address this terrible problem. They are working with local organizations and government to house and care for the numerous tiny cheetahs confiscated from traffickers. It will take a great effort to combat this ever growing issue.
CNN Reports on
Illegal Pet Trade: Cheetahs
A growing problem is the illegal pet trade. People are taking young cubs out of the wild illegally and are selling them to wealthy buyers. The cubs are taken from the Horn of Africa and sold to buyers in the Middle East.
CNN reported on this issue August, 2019. It's a tough topic to hear about and watch so kids ask your parents to join you and check out the news story together. Link below for video on the current illegal pet trade issue.