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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Cheetah on the Run

Air Date: Week of June 29, 2012

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A cheetah on the run in Namibia. Cheetahs can reach speeds of 70 miles an hour. (Photo: Patricia Tricorache)

Cheetahs can outrun any other creature but whether they can win the biggest race – for the survival of their species – remains to be seen. Producer Ari Daniel Shapiro’s has our report that comes by way of the IEEE Spectrum Magazine special “Fastest on Earth.”

Transcript

GELLERMAN: In last week’s show we aired a story about the world’s fastest falcon: Frightful the Falcon who soared through the skies at 242 miles-an-hour. Well, this week we keep our feet firmly on the ground and clock the fastest living creature on land.
Ari Daniel Shapiro has our report - it comes to us by way of the I-Triple E Spectrum Magazine special: “Fastest on Earth”.

SHAPIRO: Step into Patricia Tricorache’s home in the Florida Keys, and it’s clear where her loyalties lie. Framed pictures of cheetahs hang on the wall. Cheetah spots freckle the pillows and curtains.


Cheetahs are in danger of extinction. (Photo: Patricia Tricorache)

[SOUND OF PURRING CHEETAH]

SHAPIRO: Even her phone has a ringtone of a cheetah purring.

[SOUND OF PURRING CHEETAH]

TRICORACHE: They’re one of the most amazing animals in the whole world. They’re like poetry when you see one.

SHAPIRO: Tricorache works for the Cheetah Conservation Fund, and she’s seen plenty of the animals on her visits to Namibia – where the non-profit’s based.

TRICORACHE: There’s nothing that beats watching a cheetah run.

SHAPIRO: What does that look like?

TRICORACHE: It’s like a flash. They’re incredibly focused. And their ears fall back, and they’re all business.

SHAPIRO: Cheetahs can reach speeds of 70 miles an hour, and they run to catch prey. But these days, that run has become a race.

TRICORACHE: A race against extinction.

SHAPIRO: In the early 1900s, there were 100,000 cheetahs in the world. Only 10,000 remain today, and they’ve got a small gene pool. Their habitat’s shrinking. Wild cheetahs could disappear within 20 years.

TRICORACHE: To think that your kids will never see a cheetah run in the wild… And they’re gonna ask us, “Why didn’t you do anything?” And I don’t want to have to answer that question.


Cheetahs have large paws which helps them run and climb. They also have semi-retractable claws. (Photo: Patricia Tricorache)

SHAPIRO: Protecting a top predator means protecting an entire ecosystem. And that’s Tricorache’s big goal – to create a wild home for her cats. And to do it before extinction wins the race. I’m Ari Daniel Shapiro.

GELLERMAN: Ari Daniel Shapiro’s story on the cheetah is from the I triple E-Spectrum Magazine special, “Fastest on Earth.” Later in the show, we’ll hear about the fastest creature in the sea.

 

Links

Check out IEEE Spectrum Radio’s special report: Fastest on Earth

Cheetah Conservation Fund

 

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