Are Cheetahs Endangered?

By Antonia Čirjak on January 27 2020 in Environment

African cheetah.

Cheetahs are large cats that are a part of the Felinae subfamily. They can be found in Africa and some parts in Iran, usually in dry forests and savannahs. They are the fastest land animals in the world. Currently, they are not officially considered endangered. They are, however, classified as vulnerable, meaning their numbers have been declining, especially during the 20th century. Reasons for that may include various types of conflicts with humans, poaching to trade them, and general loss of habitat illegally.

It is estimated that somewhere around 7,100, individual cheetahs are currently living in the wild.

Some Facts About Cheetahs

Cheetahs have a light build, with spotted fur, a small head, long legs, muscular chest, and a long tail. The spots on their coats always have a unique pattern that can be used to distinguish individual cheetahs from one another. Cheetahs are often confused with leopards, but there are some key differences. The cheetah is taller, its spots are round as opposed to the ones found on leopards, and it has straight long black tear streaks beneath the eyes, which are absent in leopards.

Cheetahs are very light, which allows them to run fast. Their lungs and blood circulation works in a way that enables them to reach high speeds. They have a much larger heart and lungs than other cats their size. Their claws are also retractable, which allows them to control their grip better while running. They also use their tails for balance. 

Cheetah Behavior Patterns

The cheetah hunts during the day, mostly at dawn or dusk. They rest in tall grass during the night, only sometimes deciding to wander off at that time, and that is mostly the case with younger cheetahs. They organize themselves in groups that generally stay away from each other. Those groups can be formed according to age or whether they are male or female. Younger cheetahs can, however, band into groups with both male and female members.

Cheetah
Cheetah.

Male cheetahs are very territorial but are known to form groups together so they can defend their territory more easily. Another function of this type of coalition is that it makes it easier to find female cheetahs for mating. Some researchers believe that if they could replicate this type of lifestyle in captive cheetahs, they could make it easier for them to mate, which would to increase their number

The Status Of Cheetahs Today

Although cheetahs are not considered endangered, they are on the verge of becoming so. They are considered as being “Vulnerable,” which makes them a species with a high priority for organizations dealing with endangered animals. As of 2016, 7,100 cheetahs are living in the world, with the numbers declining. Adult cheetahs are especially rare. 

One of the main reasons cheetahs are becoming endangered is industrial growth. Since the cheetah needs a vast territory to live and it’s not capable of living together with humans, that poses a significant issue. Humans can disturb cheetahs while trying to hunt or feed. Although cheetahs don’t feed on cattle, sometimes farmers will kill them while trying to protect their livestock. Hunters are also known to kill cheetahs because they often target the same animals.

Due to all these factors, along with the low numbers of cheetahs alive currently, it has been suggested that their status be changed from vulnerable to endangered.

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