What’s being done to protect the cheetah?

October 1, 2014 admin Africa Wildlife FoundationAfrica's endangered animalsTunde Folawiyotunde folawiyo africatunde folawiyo film festivaltunde folawiyo oil

Tunde FolawiyoThe cheetah is best known for its incredible speed; as the fastest land mammal on the planet, it can reach speeds of seventy miles per hour in a matter of seconds. However, its tiny teeth, delicate jaw and lean body -all of which contribute to its ability to accelerate so quickly – also make it a less-than-agile hunter. Cheetahs struggle to defend themselves or their young against larger predators and, when forced to compete for food with other big cats, will usually end up going hungry. Coupled with fact that they are regularly hunted by livestock farmers, this has led to the cheetah being named as ‘vulnerable’ by the IUCN.

As someone who is interested in wildlife conservation, Tunde Folawiyo is doubtless aware that during the last century, the cheetah population has fallen by 90%. The problems mentioned above are largely to blame for this decline; however, more recently, a new threat has emerged, as this animal has become popular in several Middle Eastern countries, where keeping it as a pet is viewed as a symbol of status. This demand has been fuelling the illegal cheetah trade, with cubs now being smuggled to places such as Yemen on a regular basis. Many of these creatures end up dying during the long and arduous journey from Africa to the Middle East

In addition to working on policies which will put an end to this illegal trade, conservation groups are also trying to set up breeding programs, in a bid to prevent it from having any further impact on population numbers. Generally speaking, breeding cheetahs in captivity is very difficult; however, one programme operating in the Port Lympne Wildlife Reserve has been quite successful in its efforts, with two litters of cheetah cubs being born there during the past 11 months. The head of the big cats section, Richard Barnes, expressed delight at the arrival of the newest additions, noting that it had been over thirty years since they had last attempted to breed cheetahs.

Another conservation group called SAVE is also doing its bit to protect this creature. Recently, it decided to team up with the Denver Zoo in the USA, and a Botswana-based organisation called the Central Kalahari Research Group, in order to study this species. Those who care about protecting at-risk wildlife, like Tunde Folawiyo, understand how vital this type of research it. These conservation groups have fitted two wild adult cheetahs with collars containing GPS devices, in order to monitor them. The data which is obtained via this technology will help the groups to better understand the cheetah’s social behaviour and food selection, and will allow them to identify potential threats, such as poaching, bushfires and diseases.

Folawiyo has been an advocate for wildlife conservation for some time now. You can learn more about his thoughts on this subject by taking a look at the Dailymotion videos of Tunde Folawiyo.

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