CHEETAH FACT FILE

by Wildlife South Africa


CHEETAH FACT FILE
Latin Name: Acinonyx jubatus
Afrikaans: Jagluiperd
 
Distribution
 
Cheetah in South Africa are found in Kruger National Park, a few other national Parks, certain provincial reserves and some private game reserves. They rarely occur outside these areas. The Kruger National Park is home to the largest number of Cheetahs in South Africa.
 
Habitat
 
They are mainly found in savannah grassland, open flat areas and sometimes in wooded areas.
 

 
Habits
 
The Cheetah is the fastest of all mammals and can run at a speed of more than 100 km/h when charging over a short distance. They are mainly solitary hunters, although sometimes they hunt in small groups. Bachelors and females with cubs catch prey by running them down. Cheetahs may lose up to about 50 percent of their prey kills to other predators. 
 
Males are territorial and may bond and stay together from a young age, most often when they are from the same litter.
 
Difference between male and female
 
Males have a slightly heavier build than females.
 
Mass
 
Males 38 to 60 kilograms
Females 35 to 50 kilograms
 
Lifespan
 
About 12 years
 
Breeding / Gestation
 
1 to 6 cubs (usually more than two) are born throughout the year after a gestation period of 3 months
 
Depending on the area they live in and the presence of other large predators, up to 70% of cheetah cubs might be killed by other predators. 
 
Diet
 
Cheetah often hunt smaller mammals like hares, birds like Guineafowl, Spurfowl and Francolin etc. They also hunt Warthogs, small to medium sized antelope like Steenbok, Duiker and Impala.  When hunting in a group, prey like the young and sub-adults of Zebra, Kudu and Wildebeest may be caught. They can survive without drinking water on a daily basis as they can get enough liquid from its prey, but will drink if water is available. 
 
 
Day or night
 
Mainly active early in the morning and late afternoon towards dusk. Hunting by day but may hunt at night in bright full moon.
 
Enemies
 
Humans, Lion, Leopard, Spotted Hyena, Wild dog, Nile Crocodile. They also suffer from inbreeding due to lack of genetic diversity. 
 
Interesting facts
 
The Cheetah is South Africa's second-most threatened carnivore after the African Wild Dog. They are a protected species in South Africa and classified as vulnerable in the Red Data Book. There are about 1000 Cheetahs left in South Africa.
 
Cheetah vocalizations varies and one of their calls is a high pitched almost birdlike chirping.  
 
Unlike the Leopard which has black rosettes all over its body, the Cheetah has black spots all over its body. Down both sides of the nose it has black lines which look like tearstains, running from the inside corner of its eyes down towards the mouth. Although catlike in appearance, the claws of adults are not retractable. 
 
Cheetahs prefer fresh prey and are not known to be fond of carrion. When hunting and running after prey, their long tails act as a rudder to steer them and to keep perfect balance. When prey are caught, it is devoured very quickly, as the Cheetah's natural enemies regularly take prey away from them.