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Endangered Speedster of the African Wild

Cheetah family in the Masai Mara, Kenya.

They’re beautiful, they go from zero to 60 miles an hour in three seconds, and they’re endangered.  Cheetahs—the race cars of the wild—have declined since 1900 from more than 100,000 in Africa and Asia to a mere 10,000 today, according to an article in the November issue of National Geographic

Two reasons for the decline of cheetahs are a loss of habitat to human development and the illegal pet trade in cheetah cubs. Cheetahs are relatively small and shy compared to other big cats, and, unlike lions, they cannot roar, says Roff Smith, the article’s author.  Even in African game parks, which should be places of protection, cheetahs are under pressure. Lions and other animals that are larger and stronger are pushing them to the brink. 

Cheetahs once roamed throughout Africa and Asia, but most are found in Africa today. The cheetahs left in Asia are “living on a knife edge,” says Luke Hunter, president of Aid for Africa member Panthera, which supports cheetah conservation in Iran. Hunter added that despite the odds, Asian cheetahs are “tough and versatile,”  with small numbers managing to survive in the mountains.

Other Aid for Africa member organizations also are working to save the cheetah. Wildlife Conservation Network supports cheetah conservation in Botswana and Namibia. Friends of Conservation–Friends of the Masai Mara supports wildlife conservation programs that include cheetahs.  Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya works as catalyst for the conservation of wildlife, including the cheetah and its habitat, by integrating wildlife conservation into economic needs of local people. Learn more about what Aid for Africa members are doing to protect cheetahs and other wildlife in Africa.