We’re listening to the sounds of cheetahs purring. Namibia’s Evombu people have an ancient saying about the cheetah, “don’t kill the cat that cries,” referring to the dark markings under the cheetah’s eyes that look like tear drops. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.
The Evombu saying is worth heeding. Cheetah are an endangered species, and one of the last places on earth where they can be found is in Namibia.
“Throughout most of their range, the human population has grown, so the cheetah’s numbers have decreased”
Laurie Marker is the founder and director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund, based in Namibia. She tells us that the biggest factor in the cheetah’s decline is loss of habitat.
“Cheetahs do not do well in protected game reserves because of competition with other large predators, like lions and hyenas. Therefore, they’re actually kicked out of these protected areas, and they’re found mostly in competition with humans, where there’s also livestock.”
Although cheetahs have no preference for livestock, lack of wild game and limited range make the animals more desperate for any food that comes their way. And that presents a problem for Namibia’s farmers.
“In Namibia, farmers have killed huge numbers of cheetahs in the past fifteen years. Well over 10,000 animals have been reported to have been removed from this free ranging population. Primarily because of lack of information and knowledge by the farmers.”
“By working with the farmers in livestock and wildlife management, we believe that we can actually maintain habitat for the cheetahs, so that the cheetah has a long-term future in this country. If we lose Namibia to the Cheetah, the cheetah doesn’t have a place to go.”
Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I’m Jim Metzner.