National Geographic: Scientists Fight to List Cheetahs as Endangered

Three grown-up cheetahs enjoy one of the few open grassland area in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. East Africa has a large population of the big cats, behind southern Africa. PHOTOGRAPH BY STÉPHANIE PÉRIQUET

In one of the most thorough studies of its kind, 17 conservationists offer definitive proof that the big cats are dangerously close to extinction.

A group of passionate scientists have come together to demand that the International Union for Conservation of Nature list the cheetah as endangered.

Researchers with the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiativereleased a new study in the journal PeerJ on December 11 with updated numbers of the cheetah population in southern Africa—the biggest of its remaining habitat.

Pulling from millions of pieces of data from prior observations, the team says there are at least 3,577 adult cheetahs in the region, with a buffer area that could support a few thousand more. That number is the largest population of free-ranging cheetahs in the world, and less than half of the estimate published November 2016. As it stands, the species is officially listed as vulnerable.

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