Sunday, 27 December 2015
THE ANIMAL CALLED CHEETAH.
Cheetahs have been in captivity for over 5,000 years and were first tamed by the Sumarians. By far the Cheetah has been considered the easiest of the exotic cats to tame. The Cheetahs were used as hunting partners for sport in Asia prior to Assyrian Dynasty in Libia, during the reign of the Pharaohs. Their keen eyesight played a major role, which aided in the hunt.
Cheetahs have also been pets to many people dating back to such historical figures as Gengis Khan and Akbar the Great of India and Mogul Emperor. Akbar (1555-1600 AD) had a collection of an estimated 6,000 Cheetah, which only produced one litter each year. 25% of Cheetah in captivity will breed more than once. This along with several other studies has proven the Cheetah does not breed well in captivity.
The Asiatic Cheetah-Acinonyx venaticus, was hunted to near extinction by the European and Asian royalty. Their beautiful pelt was a symbol of wealth and was worn proudly. Although the pelt was not coveted as that of the Leopard, these cats were almost completely destroyed. Today only an estimated 50 of this sub-species exist in small isolated groups scattered throughout Eastern Iran.
The King Cheetah was once considered it own species, however now it has been proven to be nothing more than a genetic mutation. King Cheetah originated from Central Africa, where they were used for hunting. These Cheetah were part of a breeding program to acquire genetic mutations, such as fur patterns, size, and rare and unusual color forms, with no regard to the genetic integrity of the species. This African Cheetah can only be found naturally in Zimbabwe and South Africa Transvaal Province providing that both of the parents carry the recessive gene.
The Cheetah is a tall and elegant cat in appearance. Large chest, narrow waist, long thin legs, and a slim well muscled build this animal was definitely made for speed. The Cheetahs coat varies from a tawny to golden tone covered in a pattern of solid black spots averaging .75″-1.5″ in diameter. The Cheetahs beautiful pelt became more protected in 1970, when the fur trade regulations were strengthened. The fur is coarse to the touch not silky as it appears. The Cheetahs long thick tail has spots, which turn into rings and at the end is tipped with white. The throat and abdomen are a creamy white in color. The Cheetah has a small head with high set eyes and short rounded ears tipped with white on the back. The most well known characteristic is however the distinct black "tear mark", which runs from the inside corner of the eye down to the corner of the mouth.
Cubs are born with a mantle of fur running from the back of the neck down to the rump. This clever disguise aids in camouflaging the kittens in the high grass while they are following their mother. This mane like feature begins to disappear at the age of 3 months, but still remains visible at 2 years of age. The fur color of a newborn cub is medium gray, which gradually evolves into the adult colors by the age of 4 months.
The King Cheetah has a fur pattern mutation, which turned the small rounded spots into large connected black patches. This mutation is caused from a lack of genetic diversity.
The Cheetah weighs an average of 83-145 lbs., making them about the same weight as that of a leopard. The length of a Cheetah is approximately 70″-86″ from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. Being an extremely tall cat the Cheetah stands at an average of 32″ tall.
Newborn cubs weigh an average of 5.25-10.5 oz. The body length of a cub is approximately 11.8″, which may vary.
The Cheetah prefers to live in open grasslands, savannas, dense vegetation, and sometimes even mountainous terrain. The open land of grasslands and semi-desert better accommodates the Cheetahs way of hunting, which is running as opposed to the stalk and pounce method. Namibia is home to the largest population of Cheetah at about 2,500 cats. Due to the continuous growth of farmland and expanding development 95% of the Namibian Cheetah live on cultivated farmland.
The Cheetah was once widely distributed throughout Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Asia Minor, and even East of India. Fossils were recorded to be found from China, Northern India, Southern Europe, and as far as the Western United States. Sadly now the species is burning out and can be found sparsely scattered amongst Namibia, Kenya, Asia, as well as a handful of other small countries.