Cheetahs once roamed vast expanses of Africa and Asia, from South Africa all the way to India. Today we find cheetahs in just a fraction of that territory, occupying a mere 23 percent of their historic range. Only 7,000 individuals remain in the world today—that’s half the global population of cheetahs in just a few decades. There is no arguing the evidence, these charismatic, powerful felines are in trouble. Despite this reality, there are pockets of cheetah populations doing remarkably well. These areas are showing us that it is still possible to live in a world where cheetahs exist in strong numbers.
Against the odds, Namibia and Botswana have maintained stable, healthy cheetah populations. In Botswana, an estimated 2,000 cheetahs live in its savannahs and shrublands. Rebecca Klein, co-founder of Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB), attributes this to Botswana’s healthy balance of bountiful wildlife populations, including plenty of cheetah prey, and low human populations. Botswana’s parks and reserves make up 21 percent of the country, and 24 percent has been designated as Wildlife Management Areas—meaning huge swaths of land are dedicated to conservation efforts.
This demonstrates not only the government’s commitment to conserving Botswana’s wildlife and habitat, but it is also a testament to the local communities’ increasing acceptance of wildlife as a natural treasure. CCB has been working for years to build peaceful coexistence between Botswana’s local communities and the surrounding wildlife—teaching children the importance of conservation and reducing conflict between local farmers and cheetahs. Although there is still much work to be done, conservation efforts in Botswana, along with CCB’s contributions to securing a future for cheetahs, are paying off. We hope others will be inspired by these accomplishments in Botswana, so together we can bring about a better future for this iconic species.