Call to action as cheetah’s decline approaches ‘point of no return’

Global Cheetah Summit
Gerine Hoff
The inaugural Global Cheetah Summit – A Call to Action is set to take place from 28 to 31 January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
This gathering brings together a diverse group of international stakeholders, including representatives from governments, universities, NGOs, policy and economy institutes, local and indigenous communities, and private enterprises worldwide.
The primary focus is to address the challenges faced by the cheetah, the fastest land animal and the most endangered among the big cats.
Professor Laurie Marker, the founder and executive director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and convener of the summit, notes that in the last century, cheetahs have seen their range reduced to a mere 9%, with less than 7 500 adult and adolescent cheetahs remaining in 31 populations across 23 African countries.
“Additionally, there are fewer than 25 Asiatic cheetahs in Iran. Over two-thirds of these remaining populations consist of less than 100 individuals and 80% of the wild cheetahs live outside formally protected areas. The urgency of the situation is underscored by the estimate that it may be only five years before reaching the point of no return for maintaining a viable wild cheetah population in many areas,” she said.
The cheetah faces threats from habitat loss, fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict, poaching, and illegal wildlife trade. Climate change, human population growth, and poverty exacerbate these challenges.
The Global Cheetah Summit aims to address these multifaceted and interconnected threats and seeks to identify swift actions necessary to ensure the survival of cheetah populations. Notably, the summit emphasizes the role of people in successful conservation efforts, highlighting the need for innovative thinking, significant financing, and partnerships between international agencies and local stakeholders.
Dr Stephen Browne, Wildlife & Natural Heritage Vice President at the Royal Commission for AlUla, expressed pride in supporting the CCF's broader conservation efforts and views the summit as a critical milestone to develop strategies for addressing key threats facing the cheetah.
Summit participants, including experts, conservationists, and policymakers, will evaluate the state of the cheetah, ongoing conservation activities, financial needs, and opportunities.
The goal is to implement solutions in the cheetah's current range and develop new habitats for this iconic big cat.
Keynote speaker Vance Martin emphasised that protecting the cheetah is a direct method of combating climate change and highlights the interconnected benefits for people, climate, and animals.
The Global Cheetah Summit serves as a pivotal moment for developing partnerships and voices dedicated to cheetah conservation.