The cheetah is endangered due to a combination of genetic frailties and the adverse effects of a dwindling habitat. The species has also been decimated by farmers seeking to protect their herds.
While speed is the cheetah’s greatest asset, it can also put the animal at risk. During a high-speed chase of its prey, the cheetah can reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour. This leaves the animal exhausted and vulnerable to attack. The cheetah is a timid defender of its family and prey. Because they run when threatened rather than fight, cheetahs lose much of the food they kill to more aggressive species.
Young cheetahs are at great risk when their solitary cheetah mother leaves them alone to hunt, and relatively few cubs survive to adulthood. Since they have no pack to rely on, even a fairly minor injury can have devastating consequences.
Conservation efforts have not been able to completely eliminate the adverse effects of poaching on the animal. Even in captivity successful breeding has proven to be a challenge as cheetahs suffer from high infant mortality rates. The habitat of the cheetah continues to shrink as farmers use more of its territory for crop production.