The world's fastest land animal is sprinting towards the edge of extinction. In fact, according to a study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the cheetah could soon be lost forever unless urgent, landscape-wide conservation action is taken.
Due to the species' dramatic decline, the study's authors are calling for the cheetah to be up-listed from Vulnerable to Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Typically, greater international conservation support, prioritization, and attention are granted to wildlife classified as Endangered, in efforts to stave off impending extinction.
"This study represents the most comprehensive analysis of cheetah status to date," said lead author Dr. Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London and WCS. "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. 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."
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