Cheetahs are the fastest land creatures on Earth that can reach speeds of 80 mph. However, their sheer swiftness isn’t enough to save them from their biggest contender-the human. Cheetahs are becoming extinct with numbers around 100,000 a century ago-now 90% of these cats are gone. In fact, the estimate is if the numbers continue to dwindle, we could lose this animal entirely in 20 years. In Namibia, home to the largest number of cheetahs on Earth, they are being shot by farmers who are trying to protect their livestock from these natural predators.
Cheetah conservationist, Dr. Laurie Marker, has a solution to this problem and it involves man’s best friend. Her organization, the Cheetah Conservation Fund, breeds dogs that the farmers can then take and raise with their livestock and these dogs will serve as protection against the cheetah. You see, for all of their mad hunting skills, cheetahs are actually not aggressive, easily chased away, and are relatively easy to domesticate. Also, the CCF takes in cheetahs (many of whom have been orphaned due to farmers shooting their parents) and rears them until they can be released back into the wild. Here they are exercised and trained for hunting so they can survive out in the wilderness. The CCF also brings in students to their facility and educates them on the cheetah and how they can help to ensure the future of this dying breed of cat.
Click here to watch Dan Harris’ cheetah report on “Nightline”
Click here to read about the Cheetah Conservation Fund and learn more about how you can help these dying creatures
* An interesting fact that I learned: cheetahs don’t roar like some of their other close relatives in nature, but rather chirp like birds!
Image credit: National Geographic