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Cheetah

Acinonyx jubatus (Schreber 1776) Cheetah

Hebrew name: ברדלס, bardelas

Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae

Global Threat: VU (A1d+2d,C1) – Vulnerable
Regional Threat: RE – Regionally Extinct

Historic distribution: Ilani (1979) quotes several sources describing the past status of the cheetah in this area: Tristram (1866) wrote that the cheetah was rare but a few could still be found in the Mt. Tabor area and the Galilee hills; in the Gilead it was more common. Aharoni (1930) noted that the cheetah was becoming very rare in Palestine, although it could certainly be found in the southern plains. He also mentioned that using cheetahs for hunting was going out of fashion. Bodenheimer (1935) stated that the cheetah still inhabited the Negev and Transjordan, and rare individuals still existed in the Palestine hills. He saw many skins sold by Bedouins in Beersheba. The last record of a cheetah in Israel is from 1959 in the vicinity of Nahal Hiyyon (Finkelman in Ilani 1979). In 1962 a female with her cub was hunted 60 km east of Aqaba in Jordan (Mendelssohn & Yom-Tov 1988, Qumsiyeh 1966).

Typical Habitat: Open landscapes in desert and steppe areas (Stuart & Stuart 1997), but also in the Mediterranean region where gazelles are found (Ilani 1979).

Major Extinction Factors:
1. Hunting.
2. Capturing cubs to train for gazelle hunting.
3. Reduced food supply as a result of gazelle populations decimated by hunting.

Period during which Species Became Extinct: Probably in the late 1950s or in the 1960s.

Species Rehabilitation Possibility: Cheetahs can be bred in captivity, although males suffer from sterility problems. Reintroduction to nature of large carnivores is a long, arduous process, and the suitable natural areas are small and fragmented, and lack sufficient food to support the species. As a result the probability of reintroduction is slight.