In 2016, what was the estimated global population of the cheetah both in the wild and in captivity?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), founded in 1964 is the world’s most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species. It has a precise set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. As of 2021, the cheetah is classified as Vulnerable.
The global population of cheetahs was estimated at nearly 7,100 individuals in 2016. Distribution of the animal extends from eastern to Southern Africa while its presence in Asia is limited to the central deserts of Iran.
The cheetah is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation of populations mainly due to the introduction of commercial land use related to agriculture and industry. Another factor is the loss of grazing land due to ecological degradation including bush encroachment common in Southern Africa.
With 76% of its range consisting of unprotected land, the cheetah is often targeted by farmers and pastoralists who need to protect their livestock, especially in Namibia. In 1971, the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre was set up in South Africa to provide care for wild cheetahs regularly trapped or injured by Namibian farmers. By 1987, the first major research project to outline cheetah conservation strategies was underway.
In 1990, the Cheetah Conservation Fund was founded in Namibia, focused on field research and education about cheetahs on the global platform.