During my visit to the Knoxville Zoo I encountered a species that is in peril. A species that once spread across Africa and Asia that is now restricted to only game reserves and parks in Africa and a small part of Iran. I’m talking about the cheetah. These magnificent animals are best known for their title as the world’s fastest land mammal being able to reach speeds of up to 70 mph. Back in the 1900’s over 100,000 cheetahs used to roam this earth. Now the population has dwindled down to a mere 12,000 making them endangered.
There are a lot of factors effecting the wild cheetah populations. One of them is the genetic “Bottleneck Effect.” It is when there is not enough genetic variation to sustain a healthy wild population of a species. It leads to severe inbreeding. Other factors include habitat loss, tourism, and ranchers who shoot them on site to protect their cattle.
Captive breeding programs have been set up all across the country to insure a healthy population of cheetahs. Cheetahs are also constantly used in educational outreach programs to help promote and spread the word about cheetah conservation. There are things that you can do at home to help save the cheetahs. You can join conservation groups that are based in Africa that protect large cats and land. You can also encourage people to never wear real fur. If we all work together and spread the word we can hope to save the cheetah for generations to come. For more information about cheetah conservation please visit this site http://corbinmaxey.com/http://www.cheetah.org/