CAPTURED LOCATION: ’THE KRUGER NATIONAL PARK", SOUTH AFRICA
From my calendar A MOMENT IN TIME
HISTORY OF THE CHEETAH INFO: THE “HOEDSPRUIT ENDANGERED SPECIES CENTER” ( H.E.S.C. )
This decline in numbers is mainly due to the fast-expanding human population that, together with agricultural development, has rapidly taken over what used to be ancient cheetah habitats. The cheetah is one of the earth’s fastest mammals and needs expanses of flatland or open plains on which to hunt and run down its prey. This flatland is coveted both by man and the cheetah.
Cheetahs are an ancient species – cheetah fossils go back some two to five million years putting them in the Pliocene Era. Ironically, they have a history of close associations with humankind, primarily in eastern countries. For example, before the species became extinct in India, cheetahs were used to hunt game. Cheetahs were trained by man for hunting as long as 3000 BC
So it is not surprising that rapidly declining cheetah numbers caused the species to be regarded as endangered as early as the 1960s. Already in the early 1970s Norman Myers reported that the cheetah was slipping towards extinction, together with some other species of wild animals in Africa, mainly due to the destruction of their habitat as result of farming practices and there was evidence that the species did not breed effectively in captivity.
Cheetahs occupy large areas in small numbers. This aspect of their behavior is still seen today in the few areas that are relatively untouched by humans. For example the number of cheetah in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, which is approximately 2 million hectares in size is estimated to be 250 – A density of approximately one animal per 8 000 hectare.
This mode of distribution evolved in this way in part because cheetahs have a severe impact upon their prey species. They feed only on fresh carcasses that they have killed and having eaten move on, perhaps only killing again two to ten days later. Their co-predators, lion and leopard, will feed on the carcass of an animal they have killed for an extended period seldom leaving much for the benefit of the hungry scavengers that share their domain.
Leopards hang their prey in trees above reach; lion prides, with a number of members, consume the entire carcass of the animal they have killed. Both of these large predators scavenge food from rotting carcasses that they find and will seize a cheetah kill if the opportunity arises. Cheetahs are killed and fed upon by both these predators.
Attempts to ensure the survival of the cheetah developed spontaneously into two broad fields of activity: one to conserve the free-ranging population and the other to breed cheetahs in captivity.
Cheetahs in South Africa are classified as vulnerable according to the IUCN Red data book.
The Red data book is published from time to time by the IUCN. It includes the regional assessment of the status of species and a classification of each into one of the following categories:
Out of danger