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Global Ideas

The cheetahs' race for survival

The organization Cheetah Outreach is showing South Africans just how important the animals are for the ecosystem. Their philosophy? Creating understanding will help secure the big cat's survival.

Watch video 06:51

Endangered cheetahs in South Africa

Project goal: Developing a bond between visitors and cheetahs to encourage them to participate in conservation efforts. Also, to contribute to funding to a project protecting wild cheetahs
Project partner: Cheetah Outreach
Project implementation: Cheetah Outreach homes 11 captive cheetahs at a center in Cape Town, while in other parts of South Africa teams work with farmers to convince them to use non-lethal methods of predator control to protect their flocks
Project size: The Cape Town center has a number of large enclosures for its cheetahs, but also provides smaller spaces for animals including jackals, meerkats and Anatolian guarding dogs, among others.
Biodiversity: Cheetah numbers have been decimated over the last century from more than 100,000 in 1900 to around 7,100 now, while the area they live in is just 9 percent of that where they were once found.

South Africa is one of the few regions where cheetahs still find a home, but there they are under threat. Humans continue to encroach on the big cats' habitats to expand agricultural land, and farmers often shoot them to protect their livestock. NGO Cheetah Outreach is working to support the large predators by educating local communities. At its outreach facility in Cape Town, Dawn Glover introduces school children and locals to the giant cats, bringing them face-to-face with hand-reared cheetahs and teaching people about the animals. Meanwhile, north of Johannesburg, Deon Cilliers works directly with farmers helping them to train Anatolian guard dogs to scare away the cheetahs, instead of killing them. The organization hopes that by teaching communities how important cheetahs are for the region's ecosystem, they will be able to save the large cat, their motto: See it – sense it – save it.

A film by Louise Osborne

 

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