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

Description
■ 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

Behaviour
■ 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

Reproduction
■ 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

Distribution
■ 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

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