Cheetah conservation

Cheetah conservation in Tanzania has been a major focus for ZSL since 1991. With the support of the Tanzanian authorities, and more recently in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), we have been carrying out the longest- running in depth study of a wild cheetah population.

A Cheetah in the Serangeti in Tanzania, taken on conservation Programme's ongoing field work with Cheetahs.


Cheetah conservation has been a major focus of ZSL activities for over 25 years. Back in 1991, ZSL initiated its cheetah conservation work in Tanzania, heading the longest ongoing study of wild cheetah in the Serengeti.

This study has generated much of the information we know about wild cheetah and, as well as continuing to monitor this important population, also provides a scientific foundation to ZSL’s approach to the conservation of the species. This long term study demonstrated, for the first time, the large home ranges of cheetah and their relatively low density relative to other African large carnivores.

The Serengeti ecosystem supports some of the largest large mammal populations in the world, yet, even here, the numbers of cheetah are one tenth that of lions. Our ongoing and in-depth study in the Serengeti clearly demonstrates the role of science in cheetah conservation, and that this species needs a co-ordinated approach to their conservation over a massive scale.

From Tanzania to the African continent

In 2007 ZSL, together with WCS, initiated a range-wide conservation program for cheetah with the challenging ambition to develop and implement an international coordinated response to address the conservation needs of cheetah across their entire African distributional range.

Today, the remaining African cheetah population is relatively small, with current estimates at around 7,000 individuals. However, this population encompasses nearly 3 million km2, and covers 19 countries.  

In order to implement a co-ordinated approach for cheetah over the large scales needed, ZSL, WCS and their partners established a strategic planning process to establish a consensus and an agreed framework of action for the conservation of this species.  In this work, it also included another wide ranging species, with similar conservation needs: the African wild dog.

There are now three regional conservation strategies for cheetah supported by range state governments, and national conservation action plans are in place in nearly all range states. These lay out a holistic roadmap to address critical conservation needs of cheetah and to secure the survival of this species.

ZSL continues to work with its partners to implement these roadmaps, including promoting coexistence and mitigating conflict between people and cheetah; combating illegal trade in live cheetah and cheetah products; developing capacity within range states; and field surveys to identify priority areas for cheetah conservation. 

Cheetah landscapes

By 2015 it was clear that, despite considerable progress being made in many aspects of these frameworks for cheetah conservation, there were two areas where progress was particularly challenging: combating land use change and engaging political will. Addressing these issues is a current focus of ZSL over the coming years through our new Cheetah Landscapes Project.

In this project we aim to safeguard a large, transboundary cheetah landscape within each of our three regions (eastern Africa; southern Africa; and western, central and northern Africa). 

ZSL partners with the Wildlife Conservation Society in all its cheetah conservation activities. 

The Tanzania Cheetah Watch

As well as the scientific work, we are using 'Cheetah Watch' leaflets to persuade tourists in Tanzania to send us their photos of cheetahs, which can be matched with spot pattern records and used to monitor cheetah population size across Tanzania.

For further information please download the full: Tanzania cheetah conservation programme information sheet (652 KB)

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A cheetah at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

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