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Recent estimates put the total population of wild cheetahs at only 7,100, having experienced more than a 50% decline in numbers over the last 40 years. The species is now restricted to less than 10% of its historic range, with many populations numbering less than 100 animals. Many of these populations are found outside protected areas, greatly increasing exposure to many of the infectious agents that can cause problems in captive cheetahs. Continued monitoring of cheetah populations, especially small geographically isolated populations, is needed for understanding and management of disease risks to this unique big cat’s survival.
WCS has long been working to save cheetahs and their habitat across major parts of their remaining range in Africa, as well as the last surviving population in Asia. In Iran, the last stronghold of the Asiatic cheetah, WCS Health Programs' staff and Iranian scientists are collaborating to deal with the growing threat of wildlife disease. This includes writing and publishing the first-ever Persian-language field guide on major diseases impacting Iran’s wildlife, such as the cheetah and its major prey species in Iran.
Male Asiatic cheetah photo credits (banner and thumbnail): Stephane Ostrowski, WCS