IUCN- (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Classification:
Grade of endangerment: 5 – endangered
© Lothar Henke / pixelio.de
Due to the cheetah’s slim and elegant body (torso ranges 1.5m, tail length 0.7m and Shoulder height 0.8m), and its long slender legs, it can speed up to 120km/h for a distance of 400m, its steps being up to 10m wide. This fact characterizes the cheetah and at the same time, defines it as the fastest land animal in the world.
Their entire build is constructed to cover short distances at a very swift speed. Their large nostrils and lungs allow them to inhale oxygen ehfficiently. Cheetahs spinal chords are very flexible, however, they do occasionally have to take breaks when hunting, so that their musculature does not over heat itself. They are the only big cats that cannot pull in their claws, as they give them the necessary driving force to reach such speeds.
Because their genetic variability is very low and the inbred rate very high, these animals are highly sensitive to diseases and ecological changes. Furthermore, 70% of their sperm is deformed, which causes immense problems in reproduction.
The cheetah is a type of wildcat. It is said that the cheetah descends from a small stem that lived over 10,000 years ago. Long ago, it lived throughout Africa, except for Central African forest regions, the Middle East, the Indian peninsula and parts of Central Asia. Today, you can only find cheetahs in parts of Asia and Africa, south of the Sahara. They feel most at home in grasslands. The high grass protects them and the hills act as a lookout point. Furthermore, when chasing prey, trees and bushes don’t get in their way.
Cheetahs do not live in packs. Male and female only meet during mating season and immediately part after mating. Occasionally, males stay together in packs of three. They are active during the day. That way, they can avoid their enemies, lions, hyenas and leopards, which otherwise, would be competitors in search of prey. And since only the fittest survive, cheetahs must look out, after all, the athletic build that gives them speed, also accounts for lack of muscular strength, contrary to lions. Cheetahs especially protect their young from predators, by keeping them in hidden structures for about 8 weeks after a gestation period of 95 weeks. After approximately a year, the youngsters are adults and go their own way. However, 95% of all cubs die within their first birth year. They fall prey to their enemies. Another reason for the high death rate is their low genetic variability. Nevertheless, if the critical age is exceeded cheetahs can live up to 15 years.
Cheetahs exclusively eat freshly caught prey. They hunt during daylight and prefer light prey such as gazelles, young buck, calahari and rabbits. They sneak up to their prey, but keep a distance of about 50m at first. Then, they pick up their speed and leap on top of the animal’s legs, bringing it down, and thereafter, choking it with a bite of the throat. As cheetahs’ small teeth do not allow them to tear their fresh food preference like lions do, they must be swift in eating, so that other predators cannot consort with them. They can eat up to 15 kilos a meal.
Because of their extravagant fur, humans, possessed by glory and greed, have been hunting cheetahs for a long time. As a consequence, the number of animals has sunk more and more. In addition, cheetahs are shy of reproducing when living in captivity and are constantly battling with farmers for space and prey.
Although there are many ways to protect farm herds from leopards and cheetahs, many killings still take place. Between 1980 and 1991, farm owners in Namibia killed over 5,600 cheetahs, despite the fact that it only takes a cattle dog or even a herding donkey to protect a farm from predators. Even “taste aversions”, light poison laid out as bait could keep the wild cats away from farm herds without killing them. There are approximately 12,000 cheetahs left in 25 African countries, one of them being Botswana. The world conservation organization IUCN has red-listed the fastest animals in the world on its endangered animal list. It is not too late to save them if man is willing to make amends for their mistakes. Become active.