Cheetah - Mammals

Cheetah - map of occurrence


Acinonyx jubatus

conservation status Vulnerable

Weight: males 40-58kg (90-130lb), females 35-45kg (75-100lb)
Shoulder height: 0.7-0.8m (2ft 4in -2ft 8in)
Lenght: body 1.2-1.4m (4-4ft 8in) + tail 0.6-0.8m (2-2ft 8in)
Wild population: max. 12.000-12.500 (2.500 in Namibia)
Lifespan: 10 years
Gestation: 3 months, 2-6 cups, 90% killed by lions and hyenas
Range: Iran (last 40-60), west Sahara (250), east, southeast and
south Africa
Voice: growl, spit, his, cannot roar
Identification build of a muscular greyhound, distinct black tearmarks
from eyes to the edges of mouth, adults cannot retract their claws fully
Habitat: open plains, savanna, dry bush country, adapted even in
hilly forested areas

Protecting organisations:

Stress caused by human population, a decrease in animal population, and a large genetic similarity among all cheetahs (which nearly became extinct in the past, but have now become reintegrated from about 100 specimens) all threaten this beautiful animal.
The cheetah is a very unique feline with a perfectly developed ability for running at high speeds. Its maximum speed is about 112-120km/h (70 -75 miles/h). However, this speed can only be reached and held within a distance not exceeding 500 m ( 1,600 ft). The cheetah is able to go from zero to 110 km/h (68 miles/h) in an unbelievable 3 seconds. However, if the cheetah does not catch its prey within the aforementioned distance of 500 m, then usually the prey gets away. This doesn't tend to happen though. The cheetah, with its 70% average success rate, is a more effective hunter than the lion. Unfortunately though, the cheetah has only about a 50% chance of defending its catch, which it must yield to lions or hyenas. Cheetahs never eat carrion (which can't be said of lions or of leopards). They always try to devour their prey fresh (usually smaller breeds of antelope) before lions and hyenas turn up. For the same reason, they do not return to an already abandoned kill.
Cheetahs have relatively small and round heads, long bodies with long limbs, and a long tail which enables them to maneuver brilliantly even at great speeds. Its coat is golden-brown with black spots measuring 2-3 cm (note: these spots are not grouped into rosettes like with leopards!) and its face and abdomen are white. When these spots have merged they create black stripes or big spots. Cheetahs with such coloration are called “king” cheetahs. This variation is caused by a recessive trait, which can also cause the marble coloration of domestic cats. The cheetah, as an individual species, has existed for about 5 million years and its closest relative is the American puma.
Unlike other felines, adult cheetahs do not posses fully-retractable claws. This helps them during acceleration and fast sprinting. An unusually elastic spine (while running it works as a spring), and an enlarged heart and lungs (without which the cheetah would not be able to reach a speed of120km/h) enable the cheetah to run at fast speeds. Cheetahs differ from other large felines like lions, leopards, and tigers in the fact that they do not roar. Instead they purr like small cats. Often it is mistakenly stated that cheetahs are not capable of climbing. This is not true. Several times in Kenya I saw cheetahs climbing up full-grown trees to a height of about 6 meters. The reason? A look-out point. In the past, cheetahs were reared and used by Indian, Egyptian and Persian aristocracy for hunting.

Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - young ready jump roof car sunrise masai mara
Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - young ready jump roof car sunrise masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - cheetahs brothers watchtower masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - cheetah kill masai mara wildebeestCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - cheetahs brothers morning masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - cheetahs kill wildebeest masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - young roof car sunrise detail masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - cheetahs kill wildebeest masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - cheetah kill wildebeest masai maraCheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) - roof car sunrise masai mara
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camera:NIKON D200
lens:Sigma 17-35 mm F2.8-4 EX DG ASPHERICAL
focal length:24 mm
exposure time:1/500 s
location:Masai Mara, Kenya