DAR ES SALAAM, April 8 (Xinhua) -- A team of Tanzanian wildlife researchers on Monday raised an alarm over the killings of cheetahs by speeding tourist cars in the Serengeti National Park.
The team appealed to relevant authorities to control drivers of tourists' vehicles to avoid further killings of the animals which are on the brink of extinction.
The researchers from state-owned Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute are undertaking a research program aimed at establishing reasons behind the decline of cheetah population in the Serengeti National Park.
Dennis Minja, the coordinator of the research program, said between 2016 and 2018 eight cheetahs were knocked down in the Serengeti National Park by speeding tourist vehicles.
"One of the big cats were knocked down in 2016, four were killed in 2017 and three in 2018," said Minja, adding that the 5,000 U.S. dollar penalty for drivers who knocked down wild animals in reserved areas was too compassionate to control the malpractice.
Minja said cheetah is among 10 wild animals in the world declared on the verge of extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.
"Relevant authorities should do all they can to ensure that the cheetah is protected to the maximum," said the scientist, adding that cheetahs are also threatened by climate change, poaching and encroachment of human activities.
Statistics indicate that in 2007, there were between 569 and 1,007 cheetahs in Tanzania, between 710 and 793 cheetahs in Kenya, between 40 and 295 cheetahs in Uganda and approximately 200 in Somalia.