Imagine being able to accelerate from 0 – 60 mph in only 3 seconds! Imagine being the fastest animal on land in the world, but your whole existence and life as you know it, is threatened to the point of extinction.
As a woman riding and racing motorcycles I am hoping to raise awareness about the dangers the Cheetah faces, as well as, raise funds to help support the conservation and research efforts to save this amazing cat. We have already lost too many species that our next generation will never get to see.
“Duma”, which means Cheetah in Swahili, is what I named my yellow Suzuki SV650. She will be dressed up in Cheetah spots to make her very noticeable wherever I ride her because I Ride for Cheetahs! Please join me on my rides and support this cause to save the Cheetah before it too is gone forever!
Since 1990, the wild cheetah population has decreased by nearly 85%. The cheetah currently is found in pockets within Africa with perhaps a total population ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 individuals, with the greatest numbers in Namibia.
Cheetahs once ranged across the entire African continent, except for the Congo Basin, and into Asia from the Arabian Peninsula to eastern India. Today, cheetahs are found in only 23% of their historic African range and are extinct in their Asian range except for a small population in Iran of about 100 individuals.
As with all other species fighting extinction, the problem facing the cheetah is complex and multifaceted. However, most of the reasons for the cheetah’s endangerment can be grouped into three overarching categories:
Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation - http://cheetah.org/what-we-do/habitat-restoration/
Numerous landscapes across Africa that could once support thousands of cheetahs now struggle to support just a handful.
In protected areas like national parks and wildlife reserves, cheetahs do not fare well as these areas normally contain high densities of other larger predators like the lion, leopard, and hyena, all of which compete with cheetahs for prey and will kill cheetahs given the opportunity. In such areas, the cheetah cub mortality can be as high as 90%.
Because cheetahs hunt more during the day, people see them more often than the nocturnal predators and are therefore blamed for livestock kills they are not responsible for.
Today, there is still a high demand for cheetahs as pets. To supply this demand, cheetahs have to be illegally captured from the wild and then smuggled to the different parts of the world they are desired. Out of all the cheetah cubs smuggled, only one of in six survives the journey, therefore requiring even more cubs be captured from the wild to meet the demand. The illegal trade in cheetahs is therefore a significant contributor to the cheetah’s population decline and endangerment.
While being a keystone predator in nature, the cheetah in zoos is a charismatic and popular ambassador for all African wildlife. The cheetah is a wonderful example of a highly specialized species with unique morphology, genetics and physiology, all of which allows special learning opportunities for the public of all ages. The cheetah’s popularity has also helped to raise significant funds for conserving the species in the wild.
The cheetah also is well known for having little genetic which may make the species more vulnerable, for example, to diseases. Much of this work in Africa has been supported by zoos that educate the public using cheetah ‘ambassadors’ in exhibits. These cheetahs in captivity are valuable for securing healthy genes as insurance to support the wild populations.
There are significant on-the-ground efforts in Africa that are surveying and monitoring the well-being and distribution of wild populations, studying the prey base and educating local people about ways to live in harmony with this predator.
Additionally, these animals can be studied to produce new biological information that is impossible to collect from free-living cheetahs, but that has practical use for conserving the wild population. Much of what we now know about how to safely anesthetize a cheetah and its special physiology, endocrinology, genetics, nutrition and health was learned from studying this species in accredited zoos.
Despite the cheetah living in captivity for at least 3,000 years, the species is very difficult to consistently reproduce — a mystery to be solved by the resources and expertise of organizations such as the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia and the Conservation Centers for Species Survival that work closely with Dr Laurie Marker, founder of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF).
Thank you for the time reading this, share and join us on this journey to help save, educate and raise awareness about the dangers the beautiful Cheetah faces.
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