Genetic Diversity of the Cheetah

Genetic Diversity of the Cheetah


The cheetah is one of the world’s most iconic species, and it is unique in many ways. It is the fastest land mammal, capable of reaching speeds of up to 120 km/h in a single burst. It is also one of the most endangered species in the world, with its population estimated to be somewhere between 7,500 and 10,000 individuals. Despite this, the cheetah is essential to the balance of the African savanna ecosystem.

Genetic Diversity

One of the biggest threats to the cheetah is its extremely low genetic diversity. A recent study conducted by the National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative estimated that the cheetah’s population is made up of only three founding individuals. This means that the cheetah lacks the genetic diversity which would normally be present in large populations, making the species extremely vulnerable to disease and extinction.

The study also found that the cheetah’s low genetic diversity is due to a population bottleneck, which occurred approximately 10,000 years ago. This bottleneck was likely caused by a combination of factors, including climate change and human hunting. Since then, the cheetah has been unable to recover, due to its low population size.

Conservation Efforts

In order to help protect the cheetah, conservation efforts are essential. One of the primary goals of conservationists is to increase the genetic diversity of the cheetah’s population. This can be done through the introduction of new individuals from different areas, as well as through the use of assisted reproduction techniques such as artificial insemination.

In addition, conservationists are also working to protect the cheetah’s habitat and reduce the threats posed by human activities, such as poaching and habitat destruction. This is essential for ensuring that the cheetah’s population is able to recover and that the species is not lost forever.


The cheetah is an iconic species, and its low genetic diversity is a serious threat to its future. Fortunately, there are conservation efforts in place that are helping to protect the species and ensure its survival. It is important that these efforts continue and that we all do our part to help protect the cheetah and its habitat.

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