Cheeky Cheetahs!

© Cheetah Conservation Fund

I love cheetahs. (Yeah, I know. I love CATS. Period.) They are my favorite among the big cats. I love the way they’re built. I love their athleticism.

If the video doesn’t start playing at 1:05 in, you’ll have to fast-forward yourself
– or just watch from the start.

I love the young ‘uns’ PUNK (hair)DOS.

Actually, I pretty much love everything about these beautiful cats.

Things you might already know about cheetahs.

  1. The cheetah is the fastest land animal, capable of running from 50 to 80 mph.
  2. They are native to Africa (but can also be found in central Iran).
  3. Unlike other cats they cannot fully retract their claws. (This gives them traction so they can “turn on a dime.”)
  4. They are built for speed (like the greyhound).
  5. Cheetahs have long tails, small heads, black tear-like facial streaks. (I’m assuming footballers were inspired by these.)
  6. Their prey consists of small- to- mid-sized animals (Thompson’s gazelles, baby wildebeests, etc.)
  7. Cheetahs are endangered.

But what you may NOT know…

  • During ancient times they were trained for hunting.
  • There are five subspecies of cheetah:  Southeast African cheetah, Asiatic cheetah, Northeast African cheetah, and Northwest African cheetah. There is also a rare mutation called the King cheetah.
  • It’s closest relatives are the cougar (or puma) and the jaguarundi. Interesting to note that, unlike other large cats, these three do not roar. However, they all PURR.
  • The most common vocalizations observed in cheetahs:  Chirping, churring, meowing, and purring.
  • They are more gregarious than many other cats and are active mainly during the day.
  • Their main social groups consist of:  females and their cubs, male coalitions, and solitary males. Females lead a nomadic life involving large home ranges while males establish much smaller territories.
  • Cheetahs have low genetic diversity which is one of the things that makes them highly endangered. Their genetic variation is lower than than that of Tasmanian devils, Virunga gorillas, Amur tigers, and even highly inbred domestic cats and dogs. [source]
  • Cheetah cubs are highly vulnerable to predation by other large carnivores (such as hyenas and lions) and have a mortality rate of 70 percent.
  • Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, as of 2019 there are about 7,100 cheetahs left in the wild. “…after a recent study revealed significant population declines, scientists are calling for cheetahs to be uplisted to ‘Endangered.’ In North Africa and Asia, they are considered ‘Critically Endangered.'” [source]
  • Once found in India, the last three Asiatic cheetahs seen in India were murdered in 1947 by Maharaja Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo. [see Cheetah reintroduction in India]
  • Aside from their low genetic diversity (which makes them more vulnerable to diseases), cheetahs are threatened by habitat loss, fragmentation of populations, ecological degradation (requiring a sizeable area to live in), shortage of prey and conflict with other species (like humans and other large carnivores), illegal wildlife trade and trafficking, and collisions with vehicles.

The Caress by Fernand Khnopff, 1896

Cheetah Conservation Fund
Panthera: Facts About Cheetahs
Wikipedia
Wildlife Conservation Network: Cheetah Conservation Botswana

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