By Raza Mehdi
Sep 23, 2022
Cheetahs are the fastest animals on land, capable of sprinting at a speed of 80 to 120 km/h! But it lasts less than a minute as they get tired quickly at such a fast speed.
Built for speed, not stamina
They can go flat from 0 to 95km/h in three seconds! Their claws work like studs similar to football boots for extra grip while sprinting. And their long, muscular tail acts as a rudder, helping them make sharp turns.
The name Cheetah comes from the Hindi word - Chita - which means 'spotted one'. The scientific name of the cat is Acinonyx jubatus. Acinonyx means "no move claw" in Greek, referring to its non-retractile claws.
Origins of the word 'Cheetah'
Female cheetahs are solitary, while males live in groups. A female cheetah usually raises her cubs independently, hiding them in dens and teaching hunting skills.
Unique social life
Hunting during the day reduces the chances of having their catch stolen. Their exceptional eyesight enables them to pick out a prey from 5 km away.
Hunting during the day
The distinctive black 'tear marks' running from its eyes are believed to help reflect the sun's glare like sunglasses.
Cheetah's 'tear marks'
Cheetahs lack the unique two-piece bone in the throat that helps other big cats to roar. But they produce different sounds, including chirping, hissing, purring, and growling.
Cheetahs don't roar
Ancient Egyptians believed that a goddess named Mafdet, often depicted with a Cheetah's head, would speed the pharaoh's soul to the afterworld. Therefore, cheetahs were kept as hunting companions by pharaohs.
Sacred in Ancient Egypt
While some groups live in a small 30 km square territory, a cheetah may roam a vast range of 3,000 square kilometres in other areas. They favour areas with less populated prey animals, avoiding competition with bigger predators.
Cheetahs need to stretch
India was once home to a large population of Asiatic Cheetahs, but it was declared extinct by 1952. The Asian Cheetah population now numbers just 50 or so in one isolated pocket of Iran.
Cheetahs in India
Eight Namibian wild Cheetahs, five females and three males have been brought to India and released at Kuno National Park, Madhya Pradesh. India signed a historic MoU with Namibia to promote and restore Cheetahs in their former range since they went extinct.
Coming back home
Bringing the cheetah back has made India the only country with five species of big cats: the tiger, lion, leopard, snow leopard and the cheetah.
India and its Big Cats