On September 20th, Tanganyika Wildlife Park is celebrating the fastest cat on Earth, the cheetah! Read more to learn more interesting facts about cheetahs, and how you can join us for our EXCLUSIVE chat and presentation from cheetah expert Mary Wykstra from Action for Cheetahs Kenya!
Interesting Facts About Cheetahs that everyone Should Know
How Fast Can A Cheetah Run?
Cheetahs take the crown for being the fastest land mammal on earth, capable of reaching a top speed of 70 miles per hour! To put this into perspective, Usain Bolt, who is widely regarded as the fastest man only reached a top speed of 27 miles per hour in his Olympic career. Even more impressive, cheetahs can increase their speed by 6 miles per hour with EVERY stride!
Leopard vs Cheetah
Despite their similar appearance, cheetahs and leopards have many different features that make them unique from one another. The spots on a cheetah are individual solid round or oval black spots all over its body. Leopards however, have a more complex pattern consisting of rosettes which are irregularly shaped spots that are grouped giving it rose-like markings. Cheetahs have black tear shaped markings on their face, which helps reflect the scorching African sun from their eyes, while leopards do not have these markings. The body structure of the two cats is perhaps the most distinctive difference between the species. Cheetahs are taller and slender in build, compared to the leopard’s muscular and more bulky body. Leopards and cheetahs have completely different hunting styles. Cheetahs use their speed to chase their prey and capture their prey by tripping them with their claws and going after the throat, while leopards are ambush predators, crouching low to the ground for long periods of time and stalking their prey before they pounce onto their prey.
What Do Cheetahs Eat?
Cheetahs are carnivores, meaning that they consume other animals. Their prey mainly consists of small antelope, including springbok, steenbok, duikers, impala and gazelles, as well as the young of larger animals, such as warthogs, kudu, hartebeest, oryx, roan and sable. Cheetahs also hunt birds and rabbits. Many times, unfortunately cheetahs will get their kills stolen by larger and more powerful predators such as lions, leopards, and hyenas.
Where do Cheetahs Live?
Cheetahs are found primarily in the eastern and southern ranges of Africa south of the Sahara Desert. Small populations of cheetahs can be found in North Africa and Iran. Cheetahs can be found in a wide range of habitats including shrublands, grasslands, savannahs, and deserts.
Are Cheetahs Endangered?
Cheetahs are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. However, their populations are rapidly declining, and the population is severely fragmented. This means that it will be more difficult for cheetahs to mate, which will lead to this species unfortunately becoming endangered sooner rather than later. Cheetahs are facing different threats that are collectively pushing them toward extinction. Humans are threatening them by infringing on their habitat, hunting cheetahs, and contributing to climate change, which makes it hard for cheetahs to adapt to their natural habitat. Tanganyika Wildlife Park has partnered with situ organizations such as Action for Cheetahs in Kenya (ACK), to promote the conservation of cheetahs. This incredible organization works hand in hand with the Kenyan people to support education and conservation efforts to save cheetahs. If YOU would like to support our conservation efforts to save amazing species around the world such as cheetahs, consider donating to the The Tanganyika Wildlife Foundation.
Cheetah Cubs at TWP
In February of this year, we welcomed our tenth and eleventh litters of cheetahs. Cheetahs are notorious tricky to breed in captivity. With only 7,100 left in the wild, every new cub is a sign of hope for the longevity of the species. Only about 5% of wild cheetah cubs that are born make it to adulthood. Many are killed by larger more powerful predators, and others are taken and sold into the pet trade. This is why each cub that is born here at Tanganyika is so very important for the survival of the species. If YOU would like to meet our cheetah cubs up close and personal, click HERE to purchase one of our ticket packages TODAY! Imagine being able to meet these beautiful and incredible big cats up close and personal?! It will be an experience that you will NEVER forget!
Cheetahs and Dogs: Unlikely Best Friends?
Dogs are helping cheetahs in a surprising number of ways! Cheetahs are inherently extremely very nervous and skittish animals, and sometimes lack confidence. In the wild, cheetahs many times get chased off and their kills stolen by bigger predators. Thanks to research originally started by the San Diego Zoo, it has been discovered that if cheetah cubs in captivity are paired with a puppy companion, the cheetah looks to the dog for cues and learns to model their behavior. This helps the cheetah feel calmer and more confident in their environment, since the dog acts calm and confident.
Another way that dogs are helping cheetahs is through the K9 Program created by Action For Cheetahs. Scat dogs provide a non-invasive method for researchers to uncover critical data about cheetahs such as DNA, prey selection, and cheetah health. This data will be used to better inform conservationists of the ecological status of the species, and how to protect the species from extinction.
Cheetah Night at Tanganyika Wildlife Park
Join us on September 20th at 6:30 PM for an exclusive chat and presentation from cheetah expert, Mary Wykstra from Action for Cheetahs Kenya! This two-hour experience will include several exciting cheetah themed activities including a cheetah keeper chat, a search and rescue dog demonstration to help you understand what the cheetah scat dogs do in Kenya, and a presentation by Mary!
About the Author: TWP Marketing Intern, Nick is a Kansas native who spends his free time volunteering to help wildlife and cheering on his favorite sports teams. With a background in marketing and blogging, he shares his passion for wildlife conservation through his work. His favorite animals are sloths, giraffes, and penguins, and he loves sharing his passion for them with others!