Project status

Cheetah conservation work

In the field and behind the scenes, we’re working at the cutting-edge to help overcome the threats facing endangered cheetahs in Africa and support the recovery of this Vulnerable species.  

Cheetahs once roamed freely across Africa and southwest Asia. Today, fewer than 7,000 remain in the wild worldwide In Africa, there are just 30 known populations of cheetahs and that number continues to decline. In Asia, there are three tiny and critically endangered populations in Iran. 


Threats to cheetah conservation in Africa 

Cheetah populations face many threats including:  

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation. 

  • A lack of prey, especially in areas where there is unsustainable poaching of antelope. 

  • Livestock keepers and game ranchers who consider cheetahs a threat to livestock or game are known to persecute and kill cheetahs. 

  • Illegal trade for their skins and as exotic pets. 

  • Cheetahs also face a number of other threats, including being caught in snares set for other animals and being killed on roads.  

We’re working to address these threats and to create practical routes to recovery for the species. 

A cheetah cub climbing down a rock in the Serangeti in Tanzania taken during our cheetah conservation work
Cheetah standing on a rock in the Serangeti in Tanzania

Our cheetah conservation work in Africa 

In 2007, in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, we launched an innovative international coordinated approach for cheetah conservation. Funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the project is now known as the African Range-wide Cheetah Conservation Initiative. 

Together, we aim to improve the conservation status of cheetahs, reverse the decline in cheetah population and to work with stakeholders to improve cheetah conservation.  

An adult cheetah and it's cub taken during our ongoing cheetah conservation work in Africa
A cheetah cub looking at the camera

To achieve these objectives, we work in three key areas: corridors, communities and capacity.  

  1. Corridors 

We work to maintain safe connected habitats across cheetah landscapes, including supporting policies that promote wildlife corridors.  

We support seven large, transboundary cheetah landscapes: 

  • The Serengeti-Mara-Tsavo landscape of Kenya and Tanzania. 

  • The Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Angola Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe). 

  • The WAP Complex (the W and Pendjari National Parks and surrounding areas) of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. 

  • The Ahaggar/Ajjer landscape in southern Algeria bordering Mali, Libya and Niger. 

  • The Horn of Africa 

  • The Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) 

  • The Liuwa-Mussuma Transfrontier Conservation Area 

  • Fewer than 7000
    cheetahs remain in the wild
  • Population of 4300
    cheetahs in Southern Africa
  • 21%
    of cheetahs live inside protected areas
  • Our cheetah conservation work in Serengeti-Mara-Tsavo 

    Of the 33 populations of cheetah that remain, only two support more than 1,000 cheetahs. One of these populations occurs in the Serengeti-Mara-Tsavo landscape in east Africa, including the Serengeti National Park, which supports one of the highest densities of cheetahs in the world.  

    Since 1991, ZSL staff have undertaken an in-depth, long-term study of a wild cheetah population: The Serengeti Cheetah Project. It has provided the scientific foundation to ZSL’s approach to the conservation of the species, and it’s told us much what we know about wild cheetahs today. 

    The project has shown the scale of the home ranges of cheetah – some covering more than 1000km² – as well as their low density in comparison with other African large carnivores.  

    This study was the first to reveal the unusual semi-sociality of cheetah - males are social and females are solitary. Using DNA extracted from scat of individually known cheetah, the study also showed that, unusually among cats, female cheetahs are highly promiscuous. 

    It also revealed that the need to avoid other large carnivores, particularly lions, meant that cheetahs occupy large home ranges and never attain high densities. This shows the need for large connective landscapes for their conservation.  

    Although the park is safeguarded, cheetahs roam regularly outside the protected area where they face serious threats. Tourism also brings challenges including separation of cubs from their families, disruption of hunts, and deaths on the roads. We’re working to use information from the Serengeti to understand and counter these threats across Africa.

    Find out more about our Corridor Projects 

    An adult cheetah stnding on a rock
    A cheetah lying on a rock and yawning
    1. Communities 

    We work with communities to foster sustainable coexistence between people and cheetah and other large carnivores.  

    Find out more about our Community Projects 


    1. Capacity  

    We aim to increase capacity in three areas: 

    • Within government wildlife authorities to support cheetah conservation at a national level. 

    • To strengthen national science capacity and develop a new generation of African leaders in cheetah conservation. 

    • To increase the evidence base in cheetah conservation.  

    Find out more about our Capacity Projects  

    By acting now, we can help secure a future for threatened cheetahs in Africa, one in which they thrive and are valued by local communities.  

    Find out more about our conservation work in Africa 


    Cheetah conservation: the Tanzania cheetah watch 

    People involved 

    Professor Sarah Durant  

    Partners & Sponsors 

    National Carnivore conservation Centre 

    Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) 

    Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) 


    Urgent action to stop the devastation of critical species and habitats by helping people and wildlife live better together, is the only way to save the natural world we love and depend upon. That’s where ZSL comes in, and where you can play your part.