We have been fortunate of late to have some incredible cheetah encounters while out exploring the magnificent Timbavati Landscape. With an estimated 7100 left in the wild and only +-120 left in Kruger / greater Kruger national park spending time and sharing some interesting facts about them is a truly unforgettable experience for our guests. Below are just a few facts about these endangered animals that we like to share with our guests:
- Unlike other big cats such as lions, cheetah’s never roar but rather purr and often make a chirping-like sound to communicate with each other.
- Its fur is of tan color that allows it to blend easily into their environment. Its entire body is covered with black closed spots whereas a leopard has rosettes.
- The pattern of spots in every cheetah is different, making each one of them uniquely identifiable.
- They have a characteristic ‘tear stripes’ that stretch all the way down to their nose starting from the corner of their eyes.
- Cheetahs can run at a speed of 70 miles (112km) per hour and can accelerate from 0 to 60mph (96km) in just 3 seconds.
- Though this cat is the fastest land mammal it cannot run at top speed for a long time. It can sprint at that speed for 100 yards, beyond which its body gets overheated and can reach up to 105 degrees Fahrenheit or 41 degrees Celsius.
- The cheetah uses its long tail for balancing and steering while on the hunt. The tail actually helps it to take sharp turns in any direction while running at its top speed.
- They use their non-retractable sharp claws to successfully take down their prey to the ground and then use a suffocating neck bite to kill their prey.
- Once they successfully hunt, they need to make sure that they eat their food quickly to prevent scavengers from getting hold of it. Jackals, vultures, leopards, lions, and hyenas often take away their kills.
Below are some of the images taken by Warren Jacobs recently while on safari.