02/01/2018 6:01 PM IST | Updated 02/01/2018 6:01 PM IST

Cheetahs On The Brink Of 'Endangered' Status

Surprising new population figures see scientists fighting to get the animals protected.

PA Wire/PA Images

A group of scientists have revealed alarming new research that indicates a massive decline in cheetah populations, leading to widespread international pressure to see the creatures listed as an officially endangered species.

National Geographic reports that the animals are "dangerously close to extinction", according to the latest research carried out by the Big Cats Initiative. Their findings indicate that there are less than 3,577 free-ranging adults spread across Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Cheetahs are currently listed as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but the scientists believe the only way to protect populations from the encroachment of human settlement is to officially designate their status as "endangered".

"Humans have altered more than 90 percent of the historic cheetah's habitat, which once ranged across stretches of Africa and Asia," National Geographic says.

To learn more about the future of the cheetah, check out the Big Cats Initiative website.