Cheetahs are experiencing alarming declines and should be listed … – Los Angeles Times

Cheetahs may have once prospered, but they certainly aren’t anymore.

Scientists examining the worldwide population of these swift, spotted cats have found that there are only 7,100 left in the wild, surviving on just 9% of their original land range — and that they should be upgraded from “vulnerable” to “endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

The grim findings, published in PNAS, show that studying cheetahs in protected areas may make the species’ status look rosier than reality — and that conservationists may need to switch tactics if they want to prevent cheetahs and other threatened species from going extinct.

As humans have spread across every continent on Earth, it has often bode ill for nearby populations of large mammals. Tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, saber-toothed cats and giant ground sloths roamed California — but these and other charismatic megafauna dwindled and went extinct around the same time that humans arrived on the scene. (Scientists are still studying whether humans, climate change or both helped lead to these species’ extinction.)

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