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Cheetah - Acinonyx jubatus
See also King Cheetah

The Cheetah is an elegant and graceful cat. The Cheetah is built for speed reaching short bursts of speeds up to 70 mph in less than 5 seconds! The Cheetah has streamlined features - long, slim, muscular legs with a small rounded head set on a long neck, flexible spine, and a deep chest. It can run faster than any other animal on earth but can only maintain that speed for a very short duration - usually less than 100 yards. They have beautiful markings with a distinguishing feature of black tear lines, sometimes referred to as "tear stripes" that connect from the inside corner of each eye extending down the face to the corners of the mouth. This facial striping serves a very important purpose.
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It is an evolutionary feature nature gave the Cheetah as an anti-glare sun shield protecting their eyes from the suns rays for their daytime hunting. Cheetahs usually hunt during daylight hours but are also known to be crepuscular, active in the early morning and late evening, and are sometimes active on moonlit nights.

Cheetahs do not roar but they do purr! They have a very unusual vocalization, the most common being an almost birdlike chirping sound used primarily as a contact call to other members of their group. Once a cheetah has made a kill, it must eat quickly and keeps its guard up against others scavengers such hyenas, vultures and jackals which will occasionally take away their kills. Cheetahs usually prey on the smaller of the antelope species such as Thompson's gazelles and impalas. However if they hunt in groups they are capable of taking down much larger prey such as wildebeests and zebras. Their diet is also comprised of hares and other small mammals and birds. Cheetahs are known to be creatures of the open plains that relies upon its incredible speed to catch its prey. They do however depend on cover to stalk prey getting as close to the target animal as possible and then they burst into speed to try to outrun and catch its prey.

At the turn of the century the Cheetah population numbered 100,000 by 1980 it was reduced to 25,000. The Current Cheetah population stands at about 12,000 animals. Namibia has the largest concentration numbering around 2,500 Cheetahs with over 90% occurring on farmlands and private game ranches. The African Cheetah is now restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, wild cheetahs once were found in most of Africa, the plains of southern Asia, the Middle East and India. There are fewer than 50-200 Asiatic Cheetahs living today in Iran, protected by law, with the highest concentration in the northeastern province of Khorasan.

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Go to Page 2 >> Cheetah Facts | Genetic Diversity Distribution | or see also King Cheetah

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