One animal is dangerously close to becoming extinct

Cheetahs are getting dangerously close to becoming extinct.

According to a new report, cheetahs have been driven out of 91 percent of their historical habitat. Only about 7,000 of the majestic, speedy cats are left in the wild.

Cheetahs are currently listed as a "vulnerable" species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's red list.

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10 PHOTOS
Animals that went extinct in last 100 years
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Animals that went extinct in last 100 years

Baiji dolphin

Year declared extinct: 2007

Photo: Getty

Thylacine, also known as 'Tasmanian wolf' or 'Tasmanian tiger'

Year declared extinct: 1986

Photo: Getty

Pinta tortoise

Year declared extinct: 2012

Photo: Getty

Golden toad

Year declared extinct: 1989

Photo: Getty

Caribbean monk seal

Year declared extinct: 2008

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Caspian tiger

Year declared extinct: 1958 or 1970

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Formosan clouded leopard

Year declared extinct: 2013

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Pyrenean ibex 

Year declared extinct: 2000

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

Toolache wallaby

Year declared extinct: 1937 or 1970's

(Photo public domain via Wikipedia)

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But the new report says the cats should be upgraded to the more urgent "endangered" classification as soon as possible because their numbers are dramatically declining.

As one of the report's authors said in a statement: "Given the secretive nature of this elusive cat, it has been difficult to gather hard information on the species, leading to its plight being overlooked. Our findings show that the large space requirements for cheetah, coupled with the complex range of threats faced by the species in the wild, mean that it is likely to be much more vulnerable to extinction than was previously thought."

The main threats cheetahs face are human-related: conflict with human populations, overhunting, habitat loss and illegal trafficking. And they encounter these dangerous situations both in and out of conservation areas.

Scientists say because cheetahs can adapt and thrive outside of protected areas, they could bounce back. But they need some major conservation efforts put into place.

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