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  4. Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cat

Cheetahs prefer dry, hot climates, but are not particularly fond of deserts or tropical areas. That being said, a tiny population of cheetahs can be found in the Sahara desert. Cheetahs do not live in dens or burrows. They will often rest in tall grasses or under trees. Cheetahs can be found napping under trees, in tall grasses, on rocky outposts or hiding in the shrubbery. They will also sometimes hunt larger antelope like kudu. Very seldom will you find them preying on much larger animals such as giraffe, buffalo, ostrich, and zebra.

Cheetahs do not roar, but rather make a unique set of sounds that generations of researchers have been challenged to categorize formally. Mothers also use a unique set of sounds to communicate with their cubs. Like other cats, cheetahs also use smell to communicate, urinating at certain locations to let other cheetahs know that this is their home territory or, in the case of females, that they looking for a mate. Further reading: Four reasons why the environment needs elephants.

Cheetahs are the only wild cat, other than the lion, that live in groups.

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Female cheetahs who have cubs are usually solitary animals. However, a large number of cheetah cubs are killed by other predators, lions in particular. Another threat to cheetahs is that their kills are often stolen by other predators, like lions, leopards, and wild dogs, as well as scavengers, such as vultures and hyenas.

Cheetahs 101 - Nat Geo Wild

They take about three months to mature after conception and there are usually three to eight cubs born in a single litter. Like your average housecat, cheetah cubs are born blind and only start walking at around two weeks. A cheetah mother moves her cubs to a new location every few days, to hide and protect them from lions in the area. Until the cubs are able to walk on their own the mother will move them by carrying each by the scruff of their neck, however, as they grow up she will use her tail and a series of specific sounds to guide them to their new home.

Baby cheetahs already display the distinctive facial markings of adult cheetahs. C heetah cubs will drink from their mother until they are about six months old, which is when they will begin eating meat for the first time. Later, the mother will also bring them wounded, young or weak prey so that they can practice their hunting skills.

Most cubs will hang around with their mom until they are about two years old and then gradually move away. Females typically live until the age of 15 and males until they are about Cheetahs are not a threat to humans and are rather docile.

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If you are with a trained field guide you can walk to within a meter of them. However, cheetahs are wild animals and you should never attempt to touch a wild cheetah, both for the safety of the cheetah and for your own personal well-being. The cheetah is the only species of its genus, Acinonyx. That being said, there are five subspecies, two of which, the Asiatic and Northwest African cheetah are classified as critically endangered. The other three, the South African, Sudanese and Tanzanian cheetah have higher population numbers, but these have shown rapid declines in recent years.

Further reading: How to choose an ethical wildlife tour operator. Here are some of the main differences between leopards and cheetahs. A cheetah drinking on the left, and a leopard drinking on the right. As the report from PNAS states, cheetahs might be under greater threat of survival than previously thought. This means that they are regularly exposed to poachers, those looking to sell cubs as pets on the black market, as well as farmers who trap, poison or shoot cheetahs to in order to protect their cattle.

This leads to deformities and weaknesses if the population is not properly managed. This is the aim of the Cheetah Metapopulation Project , to ensure the genetic diversity of the cheetah population through effective management. Today there are only about 7, cheetahs left in Southern Africa.

In there were approximately 8, left in Southern Africa, but today it is estimated to be 6, That is 1, less than a decade ago. Firstly, as predators, cheetahs are responsible for keeping the antelope population in check. Secondly, because cheetahs are often chased off their prey, they are responsible for feeding other animals, like lions, hyenas, and vultures. And most importantly, the cheetah is one of the most unique creatures on planet Earth. It is the fastest land animal, and one of a series of beautiful wild cats.

Further reading: Ten of the best organizations to follow to help endangered animals. Learning more about how often cheetahs hunt and how much of the kill they actually consume helps park managers learn more about investing in cheetah conservation. In , our then base manager in Limpopo , Richard Wilks, noticed that cheetahs in the private game reserve we partner with seemed to abandon their kill often and very readily.

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His hypothesis was that because the park is a very predator-dense area, the cheetahs abandon their kill in order to avoid being harassed by other predators. This, however, has a significant impact on how the management of the reserve, as these cheetahs would need to kill more antelope in order to consume the amount required for survival. Reserve managers in a predator-dense park would, therefore, need to ensure that there are more antelope in the park in order to maintain a healthy cheetah population.

Informally known as the cheetah kill utilization study , the project now accepts volunteers to contribute to the data collection necessary for coming to a significant finding. Volunteers joining the project will be taught how to use charts specifically designed to determine whether a cheetah has fed recently and how much of the kill has been eaten.

They will learn how a rigorous conservation study like this is set up, the systems which need to be in place to ensure accurate data collection and how the data will be used to provide local and international partners with actionable insight.

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Cheetahs have a low genetic diversity, which means that conservationists need to actively manage the population. In addition to contributing to the cheetah kill utilization project, volunteers will also be able to learn about the exciting Cheetah Metapopulation Project , part of which is being carried out in the park we partner with. As has already been mentioned, this project manages cheetah genetic diversity throughout Southern Africa, in both private and national parks.

Late in , discussions around increasing the cheetah population in the park began. The park had one female, but no males. The reason for this is that taking an animal from an environment in which it is not under threat from predators and putting the animal in an environment where there are many dangers means that the animal will not be able to adapt and is unlikely to survive.

cheetahs fun facts amazing pictures of cheetahs explore series wild animals edition book 8 Manual

They, therefore, decided to introduce a coalition of males, who, although they were from a less predator-dense area, would be able to protect one another from larger predators like lions. The resulting cubs would grow up to be vigilant of predators. This study has exciting implications if it can be proven that it is successful. Previously, predator-dense reserves have been reluctant to introduce cheetahs, due to their poor survival rate. If it can be proven that this method works, more parks will are likely to introduce additional cheetahs, helping to increase the total cheetah population.

To help out with data collection for the cheetah kill utilization study be sure to fill out the application form. We also have two wildlife conservation internships available in South Africa, a short-term, 3-month internship and a longer-term, 6-month internship , which includes a placement with a local partner.

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Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cat

By Jana Jansen van Vuuren 6 months ago Tweet. Categories Limpopo , Wildlife Conservation. First, some cheetah facts How fast can a cheetah run? What adaptations allow cheetahs to run so fast? A young cheetah learning to hunt. Subscribe to our newsletter. Download a Brochure. With acceleration that would leave most automobiles in the dust, a cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in only three seconds.

These big cats are quite nimble at high speed and can make quick and sudden turns in pursuit of prey. Before unleashing their speed, cheetahs use exceptionally keen eyesight to scan their grassland environment for signs of prey—especially antelope and hares. This big cat is a daylight hunter that benefits from stealthy movement and a distinctive spotted coat that allows it to blend easily into high, dry grasses. When the moment is right a cheetah will sprint after its quarry and attempt to knock it down.

Such chases cost the hunter a tremendous amount of energy and are usually over in less than a minute.