A lab in a remote Namibian city is saving the cheetah from extinction

According to researchers, over a hundred years ago, 100,000 wild cheetahs roamed across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. But today the global population has dwindled to roughly just over 7,000.

In the remote city of Otjiwarongo in Northern Namibia, scientists are working hard to restore the cheetah population through conservation science.

Dubbed the cheetah capital of the world, the city is home to 1,400 wild cheetahs and the only cheetah genetics laboratory in Africa.

KhayJay the cheetah ambassador resting
In 2007, CCF produced the first-ever in-vitro cheetah embryo using IVF in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and the University of California, Davis, USA.
The scientists achieved this by recovering eggs from some of their captive cheetahs and inseminating them with sperm in their lab. The outcome was the first ever cheetah embryo to reach the stage prior to implementation.

Understanding the cheetah

Understanding a cheetah’s genetic makeup has allowed conservation scientists to understand why the cheetah has declined dramatically in population.

“We started realizing that this was a unique species,” said Laurie Marker, who founded the Applied Biosystems Conservation Genetics Laboratory in Namibia. “Our early studies have identified everything you’d like to know about a cheetah.”

According to Marker, one of the biggest challenges cheetahs face is a low genetic diversity. She says because the population is so similar, an outbreak of disease could wipe them out entirely.

The CCF’s bank stores DNA…

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