Rare Endangered Cheetahs Photographed

Researchers have captured the first images of critically-endangered cheetahs in northwest Africa using a camera-trap system set up to spy on the big cats.

(Farid Belbachir/ZSL/OPNA)


Touting the success in a news release Tuesday, the Zoological Society of London, said the incredibly rare — and notoriously hard to find — Saharan cheetah population may consist of only about 250 adult animals.

The ZSL says research like the camera-trap system, set up in conjunction with Algerian scientists from a national park, is crucial to gaining a better understanding of the animals' behaviour, and numbers.

(Farid Belbachir/ZSL/OPNA)


"The Saharan cheetah is critically endangered, yet virtually nothing is known about the population, so this new evidence, and the ongoing research work, is hugely significant," said Dr. Sarah Durant, a senior researcher on the project for ZSL.

"This is an incredibly rare and elusive subspecies of cheetah and current population estimates, which stand at less than 250 mature individuals, are based on guesswork," said Farid Belbachir, who is conducting the field work in Algeria. "This study is helping us to turn a corner in our understanding, providing us with information about population numbers, movement and ecology."
  • Tucker Reals

    Tucker Reals is the CBSNews.com foreign editor, based at the CBS News London bureau.

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