Cheetahs are included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of vulnerable species (African subspecies threatened, Asiatic subspecies in critical situation) as well as on the US Endangered Species Act: threatened species. Today there are just 12,400 cheetahs remaining in the wild, and the biggest population is currently located in Namibia with about 2,500 individuals. Asiatic subspecies is critically endangered counting only fifty to sixty individuals that still have their habitats in Iran.
There are many reasons why cheetahs are endangered and the most important are definitely: decline in prey, loss of habitat, poaching, and high mortality of cheetah cubs. Cheetahs once lived in almost all African countries and in large parts of the Asia but today they are almost extinct in Asia, and the number of African countries where once cheetahs lived has increased to 16.
Cheetahs, the excellent hunters they are, require open plains to hunt, and habitat loss is probably the biggest reason for big decline in their population. Many cheetah cubs fail to reach adult age because of genetic factors and predation by carnivores in competition with the cheetah, such as the lion and hyena. Cheetahs are often in conflict with farmers because they attack livestock which usually ends in being shot by the angry farmers.
As you can see there are many reasons why cheetahs are endangered, and current conservation efforts are still not enough to help recovery in population of these majestic animals. There have been successful breeding programs that gave hope but without protected areas where they can freely hunt cheetahs could be in real trouble.
There are also some optimistic project like the one from Indian government that plans to bring back the cheetah in India, nearly half a century after it became extinct in the country. Seven sites - including national parks, and other open areas - in the four states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Chattisgarh have been shortlisted as potential homes for the cheetah, and have been closely monitored to find out whether they could be used are adequate habitats. Despite some negative comments like for instance that India will end up housing them in semi-captive conditions in huge, secured open air zoos, not enabling cheetahs total freedom in the wild with chances of a man-animal conflicts I still believe this is a nice project that if turns out well could be example to other similar projects, and if it doesn't turn out as well as expected at least we can learn from its mistakes in future cheetah conservation projects. Cheetahs are beautiful animals, one of the nature's top predators, and they definitely deserve survival in years to come.
Here's one very nice video that will show you cheetahs in their own element, the hunting of course.