Trivia fact: A group of cheetahs is known as a coalition.
Cheetahs are found in Africa and the Middle East, where they tend to hunt in vast expanses of land, such as grasslands and savannahs. These areas often have an abundance of prey, such as gazelle, guinea fowl and hares. Unfortunately, the amount of habitat that is suitable for cheetahs has reduced significantly due to human encroachment. Cheetahs were once found throughout Africa and Asia, but now the Asian population is confined to Iran, where it is seen as critically endangered. Africa now has the densest population of cheetahs, with the largest number being in Namibia.
Well known for being the fastest land animal in the world, the cheetah is capable of speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. The cheetah preys mainly on mammals that weigh less than 90 pounds, usually hunting in the morning or evening. They hunt by stalking their prey, then giving chase when they get close enough. Despite their speed, the hunting success rate for cheetahs is only around 50%. Cheetahs are only capable of running at high speeds for a short amount of time, so if the prey isn’t captured quickly the hunt will fail.
Male cheetahs sometimes form groups, known as coalitions, but the female cheetah is normally solitary. A male will sometimes stay with the female for a short time after mating, but usually the cubs are raised by the female alone. For the first six weeks, the mother cheetah will leave her cubs hidden while she is hunting. After this time, they can follow her on the hunt. The cubs normally separate from the mother at around eighteen months.
The African cheetah population is now considered to be vulnerable, with around 12,500 remaining in the wild. There are various factors that have led to a decrease in the cheetah population. The cheetahs habitat has been taken over by farmland, which has forced the cheetahs to hunt in other areas, where they may be in competition with larger predators, such as lions. They are also hunted by farmers, who may see them as a threat to livestock. A further threat is from poachers, who hunt cheetahs for their hides. They are now a protected species in Namibia.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) was established in Namibia in 1990, with the aim of ensuring the long term survival of the cheetah. Their work includes teaching the local community about the importance of the cheetah to the ecosystem, as well as working with farmers to put predator friendly livestock management techniques in place. It is hoped that using these methods, the CCF will be able to reduce the issue of conflict between cheetahs and humans, therefore sustaining an ecosystem which supports the cheetah, other wildlife and the local community.
To watch a video of cheetahs on our Real Africa YouTube channel, please Click here.
To read our blog on cheetahs and see a cracking short video taken by our staff of a chase click here
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