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Dec 30, 2016 02:11 AM EST

Cheetahs On The Fast Track To Extinction, Researchers Warn

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The population of cheetahs continue to its alarming decline in the recent years. Researchers warned that these creatures should be protected before they are wiped off the Earth.

CNN reported that there are only about 7,100 cheetahs remaining in the world today. More disturbingly, the number continues to decrease and they are now at risk of extinction.

Researchers believe that cheetahs should be labelled as "endangered." This is instead of their current "vulnerable" status on the list of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

It was noted that cheetahs have lost 91 percent of their historic habitat. Previously, they were able to live in areas throughout Africa and southwest Asia.

Last year, the cheetah population dropped to 170 in Zimbabwe. This is an alarming drop from 1,200 in 1999.

Cheetahs are described as one of the "wide-ranging carnivores." There are concerns that conservation areas may not be enough for them to roam around.

It was estimated that there are only about 2,360 cheetahs in protected areas. These areas are also believed to be too small for the creatures to sustain populations.

According to USA Today, Sarah Durant, of the Zoological Society of London, said that, because of the cheetah's secretive and elusive nature, gathering information on them posed a challenge. In turn, this led to the issue of their dwindling population being overlooked.

Aside from the loss of habitat, the population of cheetahs also face the following issues: attacks from villagers, loss of food sources such as antelopes and other prey that are killed by humans for meat, illegal trade in cheetah cubs, trafficking of cheetah skins as well as the threat of being killed by speeding vehicles.

Metro added that Dr.Kim Young-Overton, from the wild cat conservation organisation Panthera, urged people to think bigger in protecting the landscapes that protect the cheetahs and taking care of them. Otherwise, we may lose these creatures forever.

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