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The Cheetah - World's Fastest Land Animal
How fast can cheetahs run?
Cheetah's are the fastest running land animal. They can run about 75 miles an hour, but have been known to run 100 to even 125 miles an hour. This is hard to imagine, you could hardly focus long enough to see it happen!
When stalking their prey however, they like to stalk close. By close I mean about 160 feet or so, or 50 meters. At just the right time, they will race to about 40 miles an hour as if in an instant. A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 3 seconds or less. That is incredible.
Are Cheetah's Endangered?
Of the big cats of Africa, did you know that the Cheetah is the most endangered? They used to roam freely over much of Africa and the Middle East, for instance. Now, they are mostly in the eastern or southern portions of Africa. It has been said this is due to hunting cheetahs, and persecution by people. I find that to be so sad, and hope that things continue to change for the better over time. It has been said the numbers are at about 10,000, and dropping.
Long term Study of Cheetahs
You can find many cheetahs in the Serengeti, or Mara ecosystem. It is one of the "hot spots" so to speak for cheetahs. It also happens to be the place where the Serengeti National Park is, and where there is some great long term studies going on of wild cheetahs. They hope to of course help with cheetah conservation over time. They find that while they are wonderful predators, they have many struggles of their own, clearly.
Cheetah cubs can fall prey to other hunters, as they are blind for up to the first 14 days or so of their life. They have amazing coloring and impressive mantle of fur that stays for about a year or so. They need to be hidden for safety in their early days, and the mother will move them around as needed.
One way to hide them is in tall grass, reeds and thickets. As you can imagine, hyenas, lions and big snakes also can be in these areas. Some lions can be seen combing areas like this for cheetah cubs. A lion is about 4 times the size of a mother cheetah, so she can't do much to help her babies once found by a lion. It has been estimated that only one cheetah survives to full independence. Sometimes in surrounding woodlands, cheetahs will immigrate into these areas. In the woodlands, there are many more places to hide their cubs.
Communication between Cheetahs
I thought it was neat to find out that mother cheetahs and their babies can be very vocal with each other. They are known to use purring, chirping, humming, yelping sounds and contact calls to communicate with each other. Some cheetahs end up living fairly solitary lives, but then some studies show they stay in groups sometimes. It just depends.