In the 1970s, the cheetah population was estimated at 15 000 in Africa. Today, the known cheetah population in the wild is approximately 6 000; half the population is located in Namibia. A decline of at least 30% is suspected over the next 18 years. The decline is primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation, as well as the killing and capture of cheetahs as livestock predators, but also for trade.
Because of this fragmentation of the African populations, the probability of meeting in the wild is weak. Cheetahs present a very restricted genetic diversity; they share 99% of the same genes. They are a vulnerable species and their numbers are declining. That's why people have to give a helping hand to these cats, otherwise they are doomed for extinction in only 16 years!
Inverdoorn is acting for cheetahs' conservation with different breeding programs. There are 7 females and 7 males – 10 wild and 2 tame ones. They were all introduced from different parts of Africa to make sure that they are not related in order to have the biggest genetic diversity possible.
Two of the wild cheetah were selected a few months ago to be released into the main reserve first; a male and a female. They are adapting well in their new environment and we are crossing fingers for them to have cubs one day.
Every evening we exercise the cheetahs during cheetah runs. We do this to keep them fit, healthy and strong, both physically and mentally, but also to teach them how to hunt; and then, most importantly, to make sure the females ovulate. During the cheetah run, their body temperature spikes up to 40.5°C and the females can only ovulate when their body temperature reaches that peak.
Cape Cheetah is trying to save the cheetah species with three important and different aspects. Firstly, we are trying to educate people about the current situation, as well as involve them with our cheetah interactions. Secondly, we are trying to breed cheetahs and study their mating behaviour to learn more about them. And last, but not least, we are rehabilitating and releasing cheetahs back into their natural environment. In this way we are trying our best to save the cheetah species.