The Plight of the Cheetah

The Plight of the Cheetah

The Cheetah is among one of the most endangered wild cats on our planet.  So much so that they have disappeared from 91% of their historic range. Their population and even their current home range are declining except for in South Africa.

The country has been quite successful in conserving its Cheetah population through intensive research, radio-collaring and continuous monitoring along with relocation and institutional protection. 

Among all of the big cats in the world, Cheetahs stand out as having an extraordinary degree of genetic uniformity across disparate populations. A cheetah from Kenya is almost identical – in its genetic makeup – to a cheetah found in South Africa. In comparison, lions and leopards from the two locations showed considerable genetic diversity. This is in fact a curse to the species because they are highly susceptible to disease and of course the threat from mankind.

There was a time, much before you and I were born, that these cats also roamed the plains and scrubs of India.  And in massive numbers. But indiscriminate hunting drove them to their extinction by the late 1940s. The last few Asiatic Cheetahs are found only in Iran. Their population is predicted to face certain extinction in the next 5-10 years. The question, in this case, is not who will protect the species, but how? The few scientists working in the area were recently jailed and falsely charged with espionage. 

After 70 years of extinction in India, Cheetahs are about to be reintroduced. Kuno Palpur Wildlife Sanctuary has been chosen as the site of reintroduction. What will be the plight of the cheetah in India? Only time will tell.

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