February 24, 2009--
Its eyes reflecting a flash, an extremely rare male northwest African cheetah
triggers one of the first ever Algerian
camera-trap pictures of this Saharan subspecies in late summer 2008.
Released February 23, the pictures represent a first step toward protecting the elusive cheetahs, which are thought to number only about 250 and are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Though diminishing habitat and prey are suspected culprits, no one really knows why the subspecies is in such dire straits--which is why the camera survey is so important, said research fellow Sarah Durant of the Zoological Society of London, who co-led the project, to National Geographic News.
"Virtually nothing is known about cheetahs across the region" Durant said, "until now."
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Photograph courtesy Farid Belbachir/ZSL/OPNA