Are Cheetahs Endangered?

The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal, but despite their speed, the cheetah can’t escape the dangers of becoming extinct. So, are cheetahs endangered?

There are only about 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild, and that number is declining. Cheetahs are listed as a vulnerable species, meaning they are in danger of becoming extinct unless we take active measures to stop their progressive decline in population.  

We can make a difference for cheetahs today by learning more about their plight and taking action to help them. Cheetahs are the world’s fastest mammal, but they’re heading toward extinction at an alarming rate.

are cheetahs endangered

Cheetah Numbers In The Wild

It’s quite alarming when you look at the numbers to see just how massive of a decline the cheetah population has suffered. Cheetahs once roamed freely over Africa and Asia.

Nowadays, there are just 7,100 individual cats in the wild (give or take a hundred), and the cheetah population has become very sparse

If no extra steps are taken, the next generation will live a life without knowing what a cheetah looks like in the wild. 

Here are the current numbers for all four cheetah species in the wild today:

  • Southeast African Cheetah – 6000 individuals
  • Asiatic Cheetah – 70 to 110 individuals
  • Northeast African Cheetah – 962 individuals
  • Northwest African Cheetah – less than 250 individuals

There is no definitive number of cheetahs kept in private institutions and zoos.

Cheetah Conservation Fund - Namibia

Reasons Why Cheetahs Are Slowly Going Extinct

There are several factors leading to the cheetahs’ decline in population. As a vulnerable species, this means we know what is leading to that decrease in cheetah numbers in the wild.

That information can help us to help stave off extinction and hopefully find a solution to increase the wild cheetah population.

Here are some examples of factors leading to cheetahs becoming an endangered species:

Climate Change

There is no denying that climate change is upon us. This affects the world as a whole. People, plants, and animals are definitely feeling the effects of climate change these days.

Climate change is disrupting natural animal and plant behavior. This affects the food and water supply that all living things, cheetahs included, rely upon to survive.

The loss of a small bee, for example, can result in the absence of a pollinator needed by plants to continue thriving in the wild. This can then mean plant-eating prey items can’t find sustenance in their regular grazing spots and move on to greener pastures.

Predators, like cheetahs, will then have to cover a much larger area to hunt, this makes them, and their young, vulnerable to attack by opportunistic predators.

Hunger

This is another factor resulting from climate change. The lack of prey animals within a cheetah’s territory forces it to move. This expends a lot of energy as a cheetah walks through the barren areas for days before finding something suitable to eat. 

And even then, a cheetah still has to stalk and run up to their intended victim which further depletes its energy stores.

The sad thing is that not all hunting sessions are successful. Cheetahs tend to go days, even weeks before they can have a decent meal in the wild.

Hunted By Humans

Cheetahs are hunted by humans not necessarily for sport but mainly to protect their own livestock.

Cheetahs are also hunted for their fur, as well as to capture wild cheetahs to illegally sell individual cats to exotic pet collections around the world.

cheetah in captivity behind a fence

Habitat Destruction

Another bad effect as a result of our growing human population and agricultural advancements is habitat loss and destruction.

Cheetahs, like other animal and plant species in areas deemed suitable for agricultural activities, are forced to move out of their own habitats.

This results in two scenarios: displacement or a confrontation between man and animal. Either way, the cheetah always loses.

Collision With Vehicles

As fast as they are, cheetahs still manage to become roadkill when they inadvertently cross paths with fast-moving vehicles.

Predation By Other Predators

Although classified as a “big cat”, cheetahs are not immune to being preyed upon by other larger animals. Lions usually list cheetahs as one of their top prey items.

Although they can run fast, they can hardly sustain that momentum for an extended period of time. a pride of lions can tire out a cheetah by taking turns in chasing it across the savannah. Once exhausted, cheetahs are easy pickings for these larger predators.

Smaller pack hunters like hyenas and African wild dogs can also gang up on an adult cheetah and take it down. But these scavengers usually target younger cubs or immature individuals for an easier meal.

What We Can Do To Save The Species

There’s still hope for cheetahs to regain their once-massive population. It has been done before and it can be done again.

Cheetahs are resilient creatures that, with the proper conditions, can thrive.

Here are some ways we can save cheetahs from extinction:

Keep Them In The Wild

There are countless forest reserves in Africa and Asia that can accommodate cheetah individuals and coalitions. These areas serve as a “controllable” environment where rangers can administer medicines, provide some sort of food assistance, protect animals from poachers and monitor population growth or decline. 

Unlike a zoo, these animals have free range and can choose to move in or out of the reserve without any hindrance. 

cheetah in tiger canyon game reserve in south africa

Use Dogs As Deterrents Against Marauding Cheetahs

There has been a move to supply farmers with Kangal dogs to help protect their livestock from big cat attacks.

This is a more effective and humane way to deter cheetahs from becoming a nuisance to farmers.

Cheetah Project - Endangered Species Revenge

Final thoughts on the cheetah’s endangered status

Cheetahs are remarkable creatures. Their elegant shape and unique characteristics make them an animal many are aware of. Cheetahs aren’t extinct yet, but they are well on their way to disappearing completely from the face of the planet if they are not assisted. 

It is only through our willingness to actively help, as compassionate human beings, that we can save this magnificent animal from its impending demise.

Endangered Cheetah Cubs Born at the Zoo | Nature Bites

FAQs

What Will Happen If Cheetahs Do Go Extinct?

If cheetahs completely disappear from the wild, it will cause a major upheaval in the ecosystems they exist in.
Cheetahs are as much prey as they are predators in their chosen environment. They help to maintain the balance by keeping their prey item’s numbers down.

What Other Big Cats Are Listed As Endangered?

Almost all big cats are now listed as vulnerable or near threatened with an observable decreasing population trend. 
Lions, tigers, jaguars, and cheetahs are becoming extinct in the wild.
It is such a pity that what little is left of these magnificent big cats can be found in zoos and private collections.