Cheetahs are one of the most iconic big cats out there. Whether they’re snuggling with puppies, pooping on cars or selling corn snacks rolled in fake cheese, they’re beloved. Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend, it seems, to actually protecting them. Cheetahs have faced an enormous population crash, and drastic action might need to be taken in order to save the entire species.
Panthera, a conservation organization dedicated to large cats, has just revealed a rather grim look at the cheetah’s present and future. There are just 7,100 cheetahs extant in the wild right now, and to give you an idea of how bad the decline is, Zimbabwe had 1,200 cheetahs in 2000. Now it has 170.
Why? Because humanity sucks, essentially. Cheetahs need a wide range to hunt game, which takes them outside of protected wild lands in many places and also means as humans encroach on their habitats, cheetahs are forced into smaller and smaller areas. In addition, humans will over-hunt their prey, kill them either to retaliate for livestock deaths or to sell their pelts and body parts, accidentally hit them while driving through cheetah habitat, or capture them alive to sell to some rich jerk as a pet. Panthera has a plan in place to restore the cheetah, but it needs funding. Otherwise, the only cheetahs we see might be selling us something.