See also: Cheetah (homonymy)
The cheetah - of Italian gattopardo , gatto : “cat”, and pardo : “leopard” - is cat-like ( Felidae ) pertaining to the Acinonyx , which comprises only one: Acinonyx jubatus .
MorphologyThe body, musculeux, resembles that of a Lévrier: it is slender, almost thin, with very long legs. Its chest is deep and its narrow size. The Os are light and the spinal column, extremely flexible, enables him to project very its posterior member S far and, thus, to run very quickly. Its Queue is relatively long and is used to him as beam to balance during its race. The claws of the cheetah are not retractile, contrary to those of the other cat-like ones ( Acinonyx means “does not move its claws” in Greek). This characteristic prevents it climbing with the trees and from thus dissimulating its preys with the eyes of the predatory ones. Only the small ones can climb with the trees, and they are not very skilful there. Impossibility of dissimulating its preys in the heights and its morphology gracile, which disadvantages it compared to the Lion, with the leopard or others Charognard S (Hyène S, Lycaon S…), prevents the cheetah from being able to taste its preys with serenity. It must eat quickly, and is often constrained to give up its prey with larger or more carnivores.
It has small a head and a short Museau, eyes placed high and well defined, underlined by a black line resembling a tear which runs of the birth of each eye until the Bouche. These trails improve its Vision by minimizing the reflections of the light of the Sun. The Oreille S are small and round. Compared to other the large cat-like ones, the Dent S are small, perhaps because of broad the nasal fossae, ensuring a good oxygenation during the race.
Poumon S developed support the gaseous exchange.
CutThe cheetah shows a light sexual dimorphism: the male is largest of both Sexe S. an adult cheetah measures of 1,85 to 2,30 m overall length, including 0,7 to 0,8 m for the tail, and 67 to 94 cm height to the garrot.
MassThe adult animal weighs from 40 to 65 kg, the Femelle being lighter.
LongevityIn captivity, an cheetah can live from 6 to 7 years on average, that is to say less than a Chat but about as much as a Lion. The cheetah is sensitive, a bad cold at the rain season can be to him fatal.
In Hindi, cheetah (name adopted in English) means “mottled”. The Couleur basic of the upper parts of an adult extends from the deer to the pale beige or the white grisâtre, the lower parts of the dress being paler, often white. The Fourrure is strewn with black, round or oval spots, measuring from two to four centi Mètre S of Diamètre. Only the white of the throat and the Abdomen is free from spots. The fur is thick with Poil S slightly longer on the nape of the neck than elsewhere. The last third of the tail is crowned from four to six black rings and has at its end a thick white tuft. The rings of the tail are characteristic of each cheetah and allow an individual identification.
When a Gene recessive private individual, transmitted by the two parents, is expressed, it results from it a reason with larger spots and a black band on the back being prolonged head with the tail. It was thought that the cheetahs having this rare gene were of a particular subspecies, but they can appear in a range of normal cheetahs. One calls these cheetahs of the cheetahs rex or royal.
Physical performancesThe cheetah traverses some seven or eight meters in only one tread and achieves four treads with the second. That makes of it the Mammifère known Quadrupède fastest: it can reach Speed S of more than 115 kilometers per hour, without however being able to maintain this speed on more than 500 meters. At a longer distance, it would be largely exceeded by a Antilope (up to 85 km/h out of six kilometers) or a Autruche.
The Patte S of the cheetahs are less round and more solids that the majority of the cat-like ones; that assistance to take tight turns. The claws, semi-retractile, provide traction and adherence at the time of a race and thus contribute to maintain the Accélération S. Enfin, its small head is more Aérodynamique.
CryThe cry of the cheetah is very close to the cries of birds.
Rare forms of the cheetah
The cheetah rexThe royal cheetah is sometimes regarded as a Sous-espèce ( Acinonyx jubatus rex ) which would result from a recessive change. It meets in the most wooded zones of a small sector of the South Africa. Its peeling seems to ensure to him excellent a Camouflage in the miombo - plate covered by a Forêt caducifoliée intersected with vast depressions Herbe use wet and characterized by the prevalence of Arbre S of the kinds Brachystegia, Julbernardia and Isoberlinia - Botswana and Zimbabwe. The proof that it is not a subspecies is that an cheetah rex can be born in a range from cheetahs " normaux".
The white cheetahExceptionally pale, one exclusively finds it in the Désert the Sahara. It has spots but more spaced than those of the cheetahs of savannas. It is under species, commonly called cheetah of the Sahara.
Reproduction and social lifeThe females put low from three to five small, after a Gestation from 90 to 95 days. The small ones weigh from 150 to 300 grams with the birth. They leave their mother between 13 and 20 months after the Naissance.
The cheetah saw approximately seven years in freedom and between twelve and seventeen in captivity.
Contrary to the majority of félidés, the adult females do not have really territories and seem to avoid themselves. The males form sometimes small groups, especially when they result from the same range.
The females are polyoestrales, with 12 days an average menstrual cycle. The period of fertility lasts during 1 to 3 days. The reproduction takes place all the year. A peak of the births was noted from March to June. Gestation lasts from 90 to 95 days. The number of new-born babies varies from 1 to 8, but is usually from 3 to 5. With the birth, the small ones are on average 30 cm long and weigh 270 grams.
The small ones are of gray color and have a coat of hairs resembling a mane along their back. It is supposed that this coat allows a better camouflage of small in grass. The coat starts to disappear in 3 months, but can still be seen at the 2 years age. During their very first weeks of life, the small ones are almost moved the every day by their mother to avoid the predatory ones. Indeed, the mother must leave them to only drive out, and during this time, the small ones are often victims of the predatory ones. Infantile death rate amounts to 90%, the majority being killed by lions. The small ones start to follow their mother to the 6 weeks age. They are separated to 3 or 6 months. They remain in general with their mother during 13 to 20 months, period during which she learns how to them to drive out. Sexual maturity is reached at the 2 years age.
FoodIts food Régime is carnivorous, primarily made up of mammals of less than 40 kg, such of the Gazelle S, Impala S, calves of Gnou or Lièvre S.
The technique of hunting of the cheetah is distinguished from hunting for the mounting adopted by the majority from large cat-like: to catch its prey, it approaches the herd after having scanned the ground since a branch of Arbre, the top of a Termitière or even since the roofs of the cars. Once it located an animal which moved away from its group, the cheetah approaches some patiently with less than 50 meters. It accelerates then suddenly, during a few tens of second S until reaching its exceptional speed, which enables him to catch fast animals.
At the same time patient and swift cheetah being thus, it deserved its name targui translated by “that which advances slowly”.
The cheetah drives out especially during the day (early morning and end of the afternoon), when the other predatory ones sleep, probably because it easily lets itself intimidate by all those which want to steal its prey to him; even the Vautour S can force an cheetah to give up a carcass. This is why the cheetah draws its prey with the shelter to be able to devour it in peace. When it is repu, it gives up the remainders with the Charognard S. the cheetahs of the Montagne S of the the Sahara constitute an exception since they are night hunters.
DomesticationAs of thousand-year-old IVe before Jesus-Christ, the hunters of the Euphrate domesticated the cheetah in order to make an auxiliary of hunting of it, just like the Egyptians did it later two thousand years. In Europe, at the 10th century, William the Conqueror appreciated huntings with runs original where the cheetah held the role of the Lévrier. The amateur more quoted remains however Large the Moghol Akbar which, at the 16th century would have had nearly thousand cheetahs and treaty its favorite with the regards due to a prince. With the manner of the Falcon niers, the adjusters “plugged” the cheetah using a cap, releasing it only with the approach of the Gibier. Recovering the sight, this one was ruait instantaneously on this sudden target. Only adult captured wild animals could drawn up beings. Whole populations were thus decimated for the renewal of the packs, which was one of the main causes of the rarefaction of the cheetahs, attested as of the end of the 19th century of the Arabic peninsula to the Indies, from where the cheetahs disappeared today. The rare survivors on the continent of Asia haunt a small zone of the Western Iran, probably the only country or the species was not decimated.
Economic importanceThe skin of the cheetah was formerly perceived like symbol of richness. Today, the cheetah has an increasing economic importance in the ecotourism. One also finds it in the zoos. Benefit are also drawn from the marketing of small cheetahs like pets. The young cheetahs are bought illegally because the laws prohibit the personal property of wild animals and/or threatened of extinction.
The cheetahs were before driven out because of many farmers estimated that they constituted a threat for the Bétail. The species being threatened, from many campaigns were launched to try to reconcile the approach of the farmers and the wish of protection of the cheetahs.
The governments of the countries where the cheetah lives in freedom try to modify the public opinion as for the cheetah: it is not harmful if one learns how to live with him, its conservation is necessary for ecological balance .
Moreover, the Namibian government is supported by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), which works to prevent the populations and to help the farmers with better living with the cheetah and thus minimizing their loss of cattle.
StatutesThe cheetahs are registered on the list IUCN: vulnerable Species (threatened African subspecies, Asian subspecies in critical situation) like on the US ESA: threatened Species - Appendix I of QUOTE ( Convention one International Trade in Endangered Species ). World statute: Category 3 (A), regional statute: Category 1 (A).
PopulationThe estimates of its population vary from 10.000 to 15.000.
ConsanguinityThe cheetahs have an abnormally low genetic variability and a high incidence of abnormal seed. It is thought that they underwent one prolonged period of Consanguinité.
According to certain biologists, the cheetahs reached a too high degree of consanguinity to thrive. According to certain researchers, they would have been victims of the last glacial era, this one having eliminated the majority from the individuals approximately 10.000 years ago. Others dispute this theory and affirm that the true persons in charge of the decline of the cheetahs are the farmers who drive out them and encroach on their habitat.
Prospect for reintroduction of the cheetahVarious proposals were advanced to reintroduce the cheetah in sub-Saharan reserves, for example in Israel, India, Turkménistan and Ouzbékistan.
The conservation of the populations remains however the priority. Moreover, the reintroduction should not be seriously considered before genetic comparisons and environmental evaluations of impact were not carried out. Lastly, the agreement of the council of the IUCN/SSC (the world organization specialist in the reintroduction) must be obtained.
Prospect for resurrection of the Indian cheetahIt is today question of ressusciter famous “the cheetah” (Indian cheetah), disappeared since 1948. Indian geneticists want to be based on methods of point of cloning in Lacones (Laboratory for the conservation of the threatened species): “If all occurs well, we will be able cloner the Indian cheetah within five years”, affirms Laji Singh, director of Center of the cellular and molecular biology of Hyderabad and principal instigator of the project. A bank of genes, Sperm and Ovule S.A. collected right now.
However, the researchers meet many obstacles: they must adapt fabric of Iranian cheetah which appears among the species most threatened of planet. In accordance with Convention on the international business of the threatened species (QUOTE), it is illegal to exchange genetic material of species threatened in a natural state. “But if the animals are high in captivity, we legally have a good luck obtain them”, affirms Mr. Sinha. The African cheetah seems less close but could be appropriate in second recourse: the blood protein analyzes highlighted only tiny differences between the various populations of cheetahs. The rates of abortion of the Embryo S clones being very high, the biologists must have a sufficient number of ovules.
Beyond the cloning, the detractors of the project wonder about the future of the cheetah: “Let us suppose that one arrives to cloner the cheetah. Very well, but where savannas passed in which they ground formerly? Where will it find sufficient preys to survive? ” request Divyabhanu Sinh, author of The End off the Trail . The detractors also underline the difficulty of reintroducing captive animals in natural environment. Others protest against the cost of the operation: the money should be initially used to protect the threatened animals. Thus, the exciting idea to re-examine the Indian cheetah enters within the framework of a great reflection on the reintroduction of the disappeared species.
According to Rakesh Kalshian (2001), international Mail , 544, April 5th.
- bottom of conservation of the cheetahs (Cheetah Fund Conservation)
- Eco-Ethology, Plasticity and survival of the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) in Africa (June 2003)
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