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UN Report: Cheetahs on the brink of extinction

By Chris V. Thangham     Dec 14, 2008 in Environment
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reports that the cheetah population is declining rapidly and may become another extinct species if not controlled.
Cheetahs may be the fastest animal in the planet with speeds of up to 120 kilometer per hour (75 miles per hour) but it will be tough for them to escape extinction, according to the UNEP report.
The loss of habitat, urban development and hunting have dwindled their numbers to 10 percent of their recorded historic highs. There are fewer than 10,000 adult cheetahs in Africa and about 50 in Asia.
The UNEP wants improved protection for cheetahs in at least 80 percent of the countries they live in. They want the government to increase the conservation efforts and allow cheetahs to move freely along their migration routes, which will help them with improved gene exchange and improve their survival rates.
The existing breeding programs have mixed results, so the UNEP wants them to improve their efforts quickly. Inbreeding in smaller groups have created cheetahs with more genetic defects such as cramped teeth, curled tails and bent limbs. Conservationists worry that cheetahs can no longer be saved because of their small genetic pool.
Some cheetah preservation groups such as Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia and the Cheetah Conservation Foundation in South Africa have not given up and are fighting hard to rescue them.
More about Cheetah, Extinct, United Nations