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The global decline of cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and what it means for conservation

Melzheimer, Joer; M'Soka, Jassie; Msuha, Mauru; Parker, Mega; Sahailou, Samail; Saidu, Yohann; Der Meer, Esther Van; Durant, Sarah M.; Mitchell, Nicholas; Groom, Rosemary; Pettorelli, Nathalie; Ipavec, Audrey; Jacobson, Andrew P.; Woodroffe, Rosie; B?hm, Monika; Hunter, Luke T.B.; Becker, Matthew S.; Broekhuis, Femke; Bashir, Sultana; Andresen, Leah; Aschenborn, Ortwin; Beddiaf, Mohammed; Belbachir, Farid; Belbachir-Bazi, Amel; Berbash, Ali; Brandao de Matos Machado, Iracelma; Breitenmoser, Christine; Chege, Monica; Cilliers, Deon; Davies-Mostert, Harriet; Dickman, Amy J.; Ezekiel, Fabiano; Farhadinia, Mohammad S.; Funston, Paul; Henschel, Philipp; Horgan, Jane; de Iongh, Hans H.; Jowkar, Houman; Klein, Rebecca; Lindsey, Peter Andrew; Marker, Laurie; Marnewick, Kelly; Melzheimer, Joerg; Merkle, Johnathan; M'soka, Jassiel; Msuha, Maurus; O'Neill, Helen; Parker, Megan; Purchase, Gianetta; Sahailou, Samaila; Saidu, Yohanna; Samna, Abdoulkarim; Schmidt-K?ntzel, Anne; Selebatso, Eda; Sogboh...


Joer Melzheimer

Jassie M'Soka

Mauru Msuha

Mega Parker

Samail Sahailou

Yohann Saidu

Esther Van Der Meer

Sarah M. Durant

Nicholas Mitchell

Rosemary Groom

Nathalie Pettorelli

Audrey Ipavec

Andrew P. Jacobson

Rosie Woodroffe

Monika B�hm

Luke T.B. Hunter

Matthew S. Becker

Femke Broekhuis

Sultana Bashir

Leah Andresen

Ortwin Aschenborn

Mohammed Beddiaf

Farid Belbachir

Amel Belbachir-Bazi

Ali Berbash

Iracelma Brandao de Matos Machado

Christine Breitenmoser

Monica Chege

Deon Cilliers

Harriet Davies-Mostert

Amy J. Dickman

Fabiano Ezekiel

Mohammad S. Farhadinia

Paul Funston

Philipp Henschel

Jane Horgan

Hans H. de Iongh

Houman Jowkar

Rebecca Klein

Peter Andrew Lindsey

Laurie Marker

Kelly Marnewick

Joerg Melzheimer

Johnathan Merkle

Jassiel M'soka

Maurus Msuha

Helen O'Neill

Megan Parker

Gianetta Purchase

Samaila Sahailou

Yohanna Saidu

Abdoulkarim Samna

Anne Schmidt-K�ntzel

Eda Selebatso

Etot�p� A. Sogbohossou

Alaaeldin Soultan

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Dr Emma Stone
Senior Lecturer Environmental Biology

Esther van der Meer

Rudie Van Vuuren

Mary Wykstra

Kim Young-Overton


Establishing and maintaining protected areas (PAs) are key tools for biodiversity conservation. However, this approach is insufficient for many species, particularly those that are wide-ranging and sparse. The cheetah Acinonyx jubatus exemplifies such a species and faces extreme challenges to its survival. Here, we show that the global population is estimated at ~7,100 individuals and confined to 9% of its historical distributional range. However, the majority of current range (77%) occurs outside of PAs, where the species faces multiple threats. Scenariomodeling shows that,where growth rates are suppressed outside PAs, extinction rates increase rapidly as the proportion of population protected declines. Sensitivity analysis shows that growth rates within PAs have to be high if they are to compensate for declines outside. Susceptibility of cheetah to rapid decline is evidenced by recent rapid contraction in range, supporting an uplisting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List threat assessment to endangered. Our results are applicable to other protection-reliant species, which may be subject to systematic underestimation of threat when there is insufficient information outside PAs. Ultimately, conserving many of these species necessitates a paradigm shift in conservation toward a holistic approach that incentivizes protection and promotes sustainable human-wildlife coexistence across large multiple-use landscapes.


Durant, S. M., Mitchell, N., Groom, R., Pettorelli, N., Ipavec, A., Jacobson, A. P., …Young-Overton, K. (2017). The global decline of cheetah Acinonyx jubatus and what it means for conservation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(3), 528-533.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 21, 2016
Online Publication Date Dec 27, 2016
Publication Date Jan 17, 2017
Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Print ISSN 0027-8424
Electronic ISSN 1091-6490
Publisher National Academy of Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 114
Issue 3
Pages 528-533
Keywords population viability analysis, threat assessment, protected areas, landscape, conservation, megafauna
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