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Cheetahs are About to Go Extinct, Scientists Confirm

Dec 28, 2016 11:50 AM EST

Global cheetah population has dropped with just 7,100 left.

Research led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has found that the sharp decline can be attributed to their dwindling space of habitat.

"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 is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought," Dr. Sarah Durant, who is leading the cheetah conservation program, said in a press release.

The species had already been driven out of 91 percent of its historic habitat. Durant added that because cheetahs are widest-ranging carnivores that travel far and outside reserves to catch their prey, they have been difficult to track down. Such difficulty lead to overlooking their plight.

BBC said another of the big concerns about cheetahs has been the illegal trafficking of cubs. The young cats can fetch up to $10,000 on the black market, the report said. According to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, some 1,200 cheetah cubs are known to have been trafficked out of Africa over the past 10 years and around 85 percent of them died during the journey.

At present, more than half the world's surviving cheetahs -- about 4,000 adults and adolescents -- live in one population that ranges across six countries in Southern Africa. The rest are found in small populations, such as about 50 in Iran, Science Alert reported.

Durant said they are going all out on their efforts to reserve the decline, however, funding constraints had been hampering their plans.

"We have worked with range state governments and the cheetah conservation community to put in place comprehensive frameworks for action to save the species, but funds and resources are needed to implement them. The recent decisions made at the CITES CoP17 meeting in Johannesburg represent a significant breakthrough particularly in terms of stemming the illegal flow of live cats trafficked out of the Horn of Africa region. However, concerted action is needed to reverse ongoing declines in the face of accelerating land use changes across the continent," she said.

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