THE CHEETAHS: THE FASTEST LAND MAMMALS

Credit by: Conservation

THOSE FAST WILD CATS RUNNING TOWARD EXTINCTION

When I was in Kenya in safari, I saw the wonderful family of cheetahs. The safari guide told me they belong to the wild dogs but indeed that information was wrong because I checked with real wildlife experts. They confirmed my knowledge that the cheetahs are wild cats that don’t roar but meow and purr. That could be a bit surprising due to the fact that we think always about wild cats that have powerful roar but indeed our attractive athletes among animals, their vocal signalisation is similar to the one we recognise by our domestic cats.

The fascinating thing, one of so many, is the speed these animals can develop. Sometimes it is compared to the sport cars and in this case, the majestic fastest land mammal could obtain 112 km/h in just few seconds which is better performance than the one sport car do show. In other words, the cheetahs are furious and fast but they do realise chase in 200-300 meters since it consumes lots of energy. Before eating, they need 30 minutes of break to catch the breath and cool down. According some statistics, these wild cats spend only 12% of their day in movement but when they move, they do that in royal, fast and gracious way. Their body is also perfectly designed for gymnastic, athletic and fitness. The long legs, musical tail and claws are the machinery that helps reaching and handling the best speed and getting the prey. Seeing them, back in 2019, in Tsavo West Park in Kenya, I still cant get out the impressions that they are one of the most gracious animals that I have ever seen and doesn’t wonder the fact that old Egyptians believed that the cheetahs have royal nature and the Hindi language it means Chita or spotted one. The fur they have is a n awesome camouflage for hunt in the savannah habitat of Africa. However, it is believed that those speedy cats originate from Americas and migrated into Asia  via Beringian land bridge and then moved finally to Africa, especially in sub-saharan Africa. There are some data that the few cheetahs live still in northeastern Iran but it is not a big number.

The aurora they have is something between cute kitty we have with us and the powerful wild cats of Africa that welcome the sunset. They do not hunt at night like many other wild cats do but during the day, in the mornings of late afternoon. The reason for it is simple, to avoid competition for food with other big predators, like lions, leopards and hyenas. This also put them on limited risk to be injured by other bigger wild cats siblings and give them a great space for focusing on the victim and obtaining the source of nutrition.

Credit by: Smithsonian National Zoo

The golden – yellow cheetahs with dark dots are often misidentified as leopards since the both type of wild cats are located in Africa. Nevertheless, you can distinguish them if you learn about the marking points for those animals:“Cheetahs boast a pair of dark-coloured curved lines running between their nose and cheeks, while leopards don’t have any unique face markings. The spots on their bodies also differ: the cheetah’s fur is covered with round or oval-shaped spots, whereas the leopard has distinctive spots on its fur called ‘rosettes’, resembling the shape of a rose.A cheetah is slender, lighter and taller than a leopard, and it also has semi-retractable claws, allowing for swift movements when chasing prey at high speeds. Leopards, on the other hand, are shorter but bulky and powerful big cats with retractable claws, making them excellent tree climbers. Vocally, cheetahs chirp almost like a bird, while leopards roar like other big cats.In addition to spots, cheetah cubs have what looks like a full-body mohawk. Called a mantle, this long bristle of hair runs from their neck down their back to the base of their tail. The Cheetah Conservation Fund explains that the mantle makes cubs look like honey badgers and helps them blend into tall grass. This camouflage protects them from predators like hyenas and lions.”

Credit by: Britannica

Their social life is something that is similar to the one the lions lead with their pride. The majority of big cats have solitary life but lions choose pride while the cheetahs make so called coalition. The cheetahs are something in between because their social life is not the same what lions have but also not the solitary as other wild kitties do have. The male cheetahs build hunt coalitions that consist of male siblings. The females are solo players that rise their cubs alone and hunt with them till they are not considered as grown up and need to separate. The males that are usually brothers stay together and live together. For cheetahs is said that they are fast food eaters due to the fact that they case what could be easily targeted and they do eat quickly. Their caution and speed during the meal time is caused by fear from more dangerous or aggresive predators that might come and attack ( lions, leopard, hyenas, or even birds). The cheetahs cant drag their prey somewhere where is safe, their body is not constructed for strength but for speed. The fast eaters are also those that drink very little, every fourth day which is pretty much impressive since we all know the weather conditions in Africa and the daily heat.

Credit by: WWF UK

The crucial issue about cheetahs is their fragility on the wildlife scene. These animals are sprinting towards the final and terrible extinction and it is written that they are now inhabiting only 10% of their original habitat. They do vanish due to the environment loss, problem with food and conflicts with humans. Their attractive look made them interesting for rich people who want them as pets ( Arabian part of the world ) and their fur is still the part of the wildlife markets and preference of Asia.

In 1900 were about 100,000 cheetahs in the world . Now, the maths says there are about 9,000-12,000 of them in the world( Africa) and according the wildlife studies, the cheetah is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red list. In spite of all, about almost all lands agree to work on the prevention of black wildlife trade and on support of animal rights and their conservation status. The gracious athletes of African savannahs deserve more than right to live, hunt and meow in their wilderness, without being at risk to be killed for souvenris or taken as pet in some luxury mansion.

Leave cheetahs alone and save them.

One thought on “THE CHEETAHS: THE FASTEST LAND MAMMALS

  1. Sarah’s excellent and highly-relative article reminded me of the irony of loss of biodiversity on the planet in conjunction with the loss of languages…

    The etymology of the word ‘cheetah’ derives from the Sanskrit ‘Chitra-ya’; meaning ‘variegated’ in reference to the patterns of the fur of the mammal. This word dates to around 1500 BCE, and emphasizes the fact that cheetahs proliferated across both Asia and Africa, as did lions and tigers.

    The cheetah species split from the puma genera circa 4 million years ago; the oldest cheetah fossil dated to this period. The fossils have been unearthed in Eurasia, Western Europe, Asia, Arabia and Africa; confirming the planetary extent of the cheetah.

    By the time the ancient Romans began to consolidate their European, North African and Asia Minor territorial acquisitions, the cheetah species had been eradicated from Europe: a combination of humans hunting them, loss of habitat, increased competition from other large predatory cats and disease, etc.

    In Asia, humans hunted them into extinction by the early-20th century. In 2020, the Supreme Court of India advocated the re-introduction of cheetahs to a specific region of India that could sustain a certain number of wild cheetahs. In mid-2022, eight cheetahs (i.e. five females and three males) were transported from Namibia to The Kuno National Park in northern India.

    Now, humans have to prove they can protect both the cheetahs and their natural habitat…

    Like

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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !