|The fastest land animal in the world is losing its most important race: the race for survival. At the turn of the century an estimated 100,000 cheetah lived in 44 countries throughout Africa and Asia.
Today, there are an estimated 7,100 cheetahs in 33 populations left in the wild.
The primary reason for the cheetah’s decline is shrinking range due to habitat loss throughout Africa. Drastic increases in human population and proliferation of domestic animals has led to loss of habitat and prey, and increasing conflict with man.
Because it is low in the predator hierarchy, the cheetah faces competition from other predators and does not do well in parks and reserves with large lion and hyena populations. Competition with other large predators takes the form of direct predation on cubs, occasional killing of adults, and loss of kills. As a result, more cheetahs live outside protected areas where they come into conflict with farmers.
Being a daytime hunter, the cheetah is an easier target than other predators for harassment by tourists. In many parks and reserves, tourist vehicles routinely disrupt cheetah hunts.
Past capture of wild cheetah for private use has led to the near extinction of the Asian population. Cheetahs don't breed well in captivity and removal of individuals reduces genetic diversity in the wild.