It’s the fastest animal on earth, but the question is: Can the rescue effort for the cheetah outrace the threat of this beautiful animal’s extinction? There are only an estimated 7,100 cheetahs that remain in the wild in Africa and a small area of Iran. Human encroachment has literally pushed them out of 91% of their historic habitat according to a study released last Monday. So now the animal has moved from vulnerable to endangered as a species.

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Credit: http://phys.org

“This period is really crunch time for species like cheetah that need these big areas,” said Sarah Durant, a cheetah specialist at the Zoological Society of London and the lead author of the report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Not only are cheetah’s facing habitat loss, but they also face attacks from villagers because of the threat cheetahs are to antelope and other prey the villagers need for meat. And there is widespread trade in illegal cheetah cubs and trafficked cheetah skins.

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Credit: http://phys.org

Cheetahs have been virtually wiped out in Asia and there may only be 50 left in Iran. Their  main living area now is southern Africa, including Namibia and Botswana.

The good news is that countries like Angola are developing a plan to protect cheetahs. Despite the habitat loss across Africa, Mara in southwest Kenya and the adjacent Serengeti National Park in Tanzania are offering refuge for the endangered animal.

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Credit: http://phys.org

Without an outcry from the world and help for those who are seeking to protect this amazing animal, we may see the fastest animal on earth speeding toward looming extinction.