Cheetahs are classified as Vulnerable but are likely to move into the Endangered classification very soon.
There are six classifications. Each has different criteria such as population size, geographic range and extinction possibility
The classifications are:
Least concern, which means the species are still abundant
Vulnerable: this means there is a big population decline in the wild and the possibility of extinction within the next 50 years
Endangered: the population decline is over 50%, their habitat is shrinking and they are losing numbers due to different threats, Such as poaching, lack of space, killed by humans
Critically endangered: A population decline of over 80%. A very reduced population that might not be sustainable for breeding and the possibility of extinction in 10 years
Extinct in Wild: Species only left in captivity
Extinct: None of the species surviving
Cheetahs are endangered as the last census estimated only 7,500 animals left in only 10% of their previous geographical range. This is due to loss of habitat due to the increase of farmlands taking over their areas. New roads, new towns, new industry. With the loss of habitat means loss of prey species. So sometimes the cheetahs will take farm livestock, such as sheep, goats or young cattle.
This makes them enemies of many farmers who will shoot them on site. Even although the cheetah may only be passing through these lands. Cheetahs have large home ranges, over 500 to 1500 square kilometers and travel long distances. But as they are diurnal and travel during the morning and evening, farmers are more likely to see the cheetahs. The uninformed farmer will shoot them immediately as a pre-emptive measure.
One method informed farmers are using to protect their livestock is by using guard dogs such as Anatolian Shepherd dogs. These dogs remain with their flock and protect them from attacks by predators. The cheetah then has to revert back to wild prey. But with the decline in these numbers the cheetah sits with a predicament.
Poaching is a small problem but still a problem. The cheetah is killed for its skin. Although protected and the skins not allowed into many countries these skins are still sold on the black market.
Cheetahs do not do well in protected areas as they can become prey to Lions and Hyenas. These two species will kill young animals not able to travel with their mother or take the prey killed by cheetahs. Sometimes killing the adult cheetah. Thus the cheetahs more than likely use unprotected areas and coming into contact with farmers. A cruel cycle.
1900 Estimate Range and Number: 100,000
2017 Range and Numbers: 7,500
Possible Extinction by 2027?
Are we too late to save an animal that has taken 4 million years to reach its present form. We can blame its decline on many things but man is ultimately the problem and the solution.