3 March is #WorldWildlifeDay and an opportunity to “celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants”. And the United Nations selected “Big Cats: Predators Under Threat” as the theme for 2018.
These iconic predators are under severe threat with numbers from all species declining at an alarming rate across the globe. This is due to a variety of factors, including loss of habitat and prey, animal-human conflict, poaching and illegal trade.
In Africa the picture looks bleak for the continent’s felines. (Figures collated from IUCN Red List, CITES Species Checklist and Panthera)
- More than 200 000 thousand wild lions roamed the length and breath of Africa just over a century ago. Today those numbers have dwindled down to just 20 000.
- Only seven countries on the continent contain populations of more than a thousand animals.
- The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the lion as “Vulnerable” while in West Africa it is classified as “Critically Endangered”.
- These spotted cats have disappeared from almost 50% of their historic territories in Africa. They are extinct in Tunisia and Libya.
- In South Africa it is estimated that there are between 4 500 and 5 000 leopards left.
- The leopard is listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Various factors have contributed to cheetah numbers hovering just above 7 000 worldwide.
- The fastest land mammal now only appears in less than 10% of its historic range in Africa. 79% of all cheetah populations contain 100 or fewer individuals.
- Cheetahs are listed as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species with calls for them to be uplisted to “Endangered”. They are “Critically Endangered” in North Africa.
view all stories