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Cheetah populations crash as fastest-animal disappears from 91% of its range

26 / 12 / 2016, Mongabaycom News

The world's fastest land animal is speeding toward extinction across much of its range, reports a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study, which was authored by an international team of researchers including biologists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Panthera, estimates that the planet's wild cheetah population is down to just 7,100 individuals, a decline of more than 90 percent since the turn of the 20th century. Cheetah have disappeared across 91 percent of their historic range, with Asian populations going extinct except for one group of about 50 individuals in Iran. In Zimbabwe the population plummeted 85 percent since 2000. [caption id="attachment_191921" align="aligncenter" width="768"] Cheetah. Photo courtesy of ZSL[/caption] The findings prompted the authors to recommend the cheetah be up-listed from from ‘Vulnerable' to ‘Endangered' on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, potentially affording the species with greater attention and support. "This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of cheetah status to date. Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked," the study's lead author Sarah Durant, a researcher with ZSL/WCS who serves as the project leader for the Rangewide Conservation Program for Cheetah and African Wild Dog, said in a press release. "Our findings show that the large space requirements for cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it…

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