Cheetahs are equipped with several special features that are crucial in successful and efficient hunting. Binocular vision is a very important asset since Cheetahs rely on sight to hunt as opposed to scent. The retinal fovea of the eye is of an elongated shape, giving a sharp wide-angle view. This aspect of the eye is also adapted for speed. The dark "tear marks" on the Cheetahs face reduce glare from the bright sun also and aid in excellent vision. The Cheetahs will perch upon a fallen tree or rocky ledge to scope out the surroundings and potential prey. The Cheetah is also a very vocal animal. With the ability to mimic the calls of some birds, by displaying a high pitched chirping sound. When a bird falls for this deceiving call it will also fall prey to the sly Cheetah.
The Cheetah is a carnivorous animal and a diurnal hunter, which means it hunts during the day usually early morning and late afternoon. Cheetahs are solitary hunters except when living in a coalition. When this is the case they will hunt in groups so that they can take down larger prey. Unlike the common misconception, the Cheetah will pick out animals that have strayed from the herd as a target, not necessarily the weak or old. After chasing down and catching the prey, the Cheetah suffocates larger animals with a bite to the jugular and holding for as long as 15-25 minutes. Smaller animals are killed with a quick bite to the head usually killing them instantly. By this time the Cheetah is so tired from the chase that it must wait for as long as a half hour before consuming its meal, and could not fend off other predators, who might want to steal the Cheetah's dinner. The Cheetah's resting heart rate is approximately 120-170 beats per minute, while it's heart rate after a chase is 200-250 beats per minute. The Cheetah's resting breaths vary from 20-30 per minute depending on whether the Cheetah is in direct sunlight or in the shade, after a chase the Cheetah's breaths per minute are 150-200! When done resting the Cheetah will quickly eat, as they can not defend their food from other predators for this reason they will not bury the food and come back for another meal. Half of the Cheetah's hunts are successful, the other half are hard life lessons.
The Cheetah's diet consists of a wide range of prey from steenbok, rabbits, wildebeest calves, duikers, kudu, and impala to springbok, hartebeest, oryx, roan, sable, birds and warthog. The most preferred and most hunted by the cheetah however is the Thompson's Gazelle. Something about these graceful animals just makes a Cheetah's tummy roar! Cheetahs consume an average of 6-8 lbs. of food each day, and in some cases may go as long as 4-10 days with out water.
EXTINCTION IS FOREVER
The Cheetah is considered Endangered in Appendix 1 to the Conservation Of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Humans have been proven to be the most feared predator by the Cheetah. Living space and adequate food supply is being robbed from these innocent creatures. Farmland is expanding into the Cheetah's natural environment leaving the Cheetah to move on or be killed by paranoid farmers. A law was passed authorizing ranchers to shoot on sight any Cheetahs due to an alleged imposing threat to livestock. In 1980 alone ranchers killed a reported 6,829 Cheetahs. Poachers also pose a threat to the Cheetah, whose pelt was coveted and was doomed to become a fad. In the 1960's 1,500 Cheetah pelts each year were imported into the United States due to an accessory fad. It was considered hip and a sign of wealth to wear a Cheetah fur. The number of Cheetahs has consistently dropped every year since 1900. In 1900 there were over 100,000 Cheetahs, in 1970 the numbers plummeted to 20,000-25,000 Cheetahs, and to this day there are only 10,000 Cheetahs. One tenth of which live in captivity. Due to the unavailability of land and food and the dangerous threat brought on by ranchers and poachers the Cheetah's lifespan in the wild is 4-6 years, where as in captivity the Cheetah will live to 10-15 years old.
The cheetah, which has suffered a dramatic 90 per cent decline over the past century, becoming extinct in 18 countries of its original range, with less than 10,000 adults surviving in Africa and a meagre 50 in Asia, mainly around Iran's Kavir desert, due to severe habitat loss, over-hunting and poor breeding in captivity. November 2008 –The critically endangered cheetah, the world's fastest land animal, is set to obtain added international protection next week at a United Nations-backed conference seeking to strengthen conservation of species that often cross national borders.