TAILS UP, OBSERVING! - CHEETAH – Acinonyx jabatus – Die Jagluiperd

Magriet Meintjes

TOLWE, South Africa

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Nikon D50
RAW (12-bit)
Lens: VR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6 D
Metering Mode: Multi-Pattern
1/320 sec – F/5.6
Sensitivity: ISO 200

CHEETAH – Acinonyx jabatus – Die Jagluiperd

The streamlined and elegant cheetah, although purported to attain speeds of over 100 km per hour, can probably not exceed the speed of 75 km per hour for short stretches, but is, nevertheless the fleetest animal on earth.
Their claws, unlike other cats of the region, are not able to be retracted. They are terrestrial animals, utilising stout sloping tree trunks to rest on and use as observation posts. Predominantly diurnal they are most active in early morning and late afternoon. In hot weather they rest in the heat of the day, preferring and elevated position from where they can keep an eye out for danger. They are more solitary than social animals. Males form strongly cohesive bachelor groups. The females are not joined by the males except during oestrus.
Vocalisation is a curious chirruping, rather like a birdcall. This may be accompanied by a ‘chirr’ sound. When content they purr loudly and growls, cough, hiss or snarl. They raise the hair on their back when they threaten.
Cheetahs are not aggressive towards each other except where males battle over female in oestrus. These can be serious skirmishes which may leave one of the contestants dead. Their habitat preferences are open plains, savannah woodland and semi-desert
Their bad record of difficult breeding has been ascribed variously to an inbred genetic difficulty and, by some zoologists, to the possible occurrence of a serious plague in times past which wiped out most of the cheetah leaving very few survivors and insufficient unrelated individuals to perpetuate a very viable gene pool. This would have inhibited successful ongoing breeding. They also have a complicated courtship process, which further increases the breeding problem.
The beautiful king cheetah is a genetically aberrant animal which occasionally manifests in populations of cheetah in central and southern Zimbabwe, Eastern Botswana, North Eastern, Northern and Western Transvaal.
Gestation period: +/- 93 days
Young: one – six, usually two to four
Mass: male 50kg, female 40kg
Length: male 200cm female 190cm
Life expectancy: 16 years

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