Asian cheetahs racing toward extinction

The conventional wisdom about cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) is wrong, according to new discoveries that could have wide-ranging impacts on conservation of the world’s fastest land animal.

First of all, the long-held belief that cheetahs had little genetic variation throughout their range appears to be false. A study published January 8 in Molecular Ecology reveals that cheetahs in Asia—specifically Iran—are a subspecies that separated from their African cousins 30,000 to 70,000 years ago. The last 100 or so Iranian cheetahs, now dubbed A. j. venaticus, should be considered a conservation priority, the authors of the paper concluded.


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