Cheetah – Information on African Cat
The african cheetah acinonyx jubatus is the fastest animal on four legs, capable of reaching speeds of over 97 kms/ hour
■ the cheetah is sometimes referred to as the “greyhound of cats”. It has a slender build, long spotted white tipped tail, spotted coat with single rounded black spots.
■ It has a small rounded head with the characteristic “tear mark” which runs from the inner corner of both eyes to the corner of the mouth.
■ The cheetah is the only member of the cat family with non retractable claws. Its long tail is used as a rudder for balance and has special pads for traction.
■ The cheetah is the smallest of the big cats of Africa – reaching a shoulder height of about 80cm and weighing 55 kg (male) and 40 kg (females)
■ To cope with the physical demands of sprinting, the cheetah has longer back legs for greater stride and weight has been lost at the expense of muscular strength
■ between 1 – 5 cubs can be born at anytime of the year. They are born blind and defenseless and will be hidden in dense bush for the first few weeks of its life
■ from a resting position, the cheetah can reach a speed of 80 km/h in less than 3 seconds but is unable to sustain full speed for long distances.
■ they usually move in small family groups and occasionally alone.
■ favouring open country and light woodland, they prey on small or medium antelope such as oribi, puku and impala. They also hunt young warthog, hares and porcupine.
■ this solitary hunter relies on its famed speed and keen eyesight.
■ it will stealthily stalk its prey before attempting a short dash when prey within 30m.
■ Cheetahs are diurnal
■ as a result of shrinking habitat, disease and high mortality rate in cubs, the cheetah is classified as an endangered species.
■ cheetah can be found in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana