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Two Iconic African Carnivores Declared Locally Extinct

A cheetah. The species is now extinct in Cameroon's northern regions. (Image credit: Leiden University.)

Cheetahs and African wild dogs have completely disappeared from the northern regions of Cameroon, according to a comprehensive study by the Institute of Environmental Sciences at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Although not yet completely extinct, other large carnivores in the central African country's upper regions don't have a good prognosis. Small populations of lions, leopards, and hyenas still survive, but their numbers are quickly dwindling.

Cheetahs and African wild dogs also still exist in other areas of Africa, though are endangered in these places.

African wild dog. (Image credit: Leiden University.)

The three-year-long study followed more than 2,500 miles (4,100 kilometers) of animal trails, spent 1,200 days tracking animals with camera traps, and called on a panoply of local organizations and individuals to aid in the search for the now extirpated (or locally extinct) species.

The research points to habitat destruction, poaching by local communities, and retaliatory killing by managers of hunting zones as the culprits behind the disappearance of both cheetahs and African wild dogs from the area.

Although the news is bleak, the study offers some small hope that the African wild dog population might be restored, citing the species' resilience. However, the study cautioned, this kind of comeback can only be achieved through improved habitat conservation efforts.

Live Science Staff
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