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Cheetah Gifts

The cheetah is an atypical member of the cat family that is unique in its speed, while lacking climbing abilities. The species is the only living member of the genus Acinonyx. It is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 460 m (1,510 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h (64 mph) in three seconds, faster than most supercars. The cheetah is a vulnerable species. Out of all the big cats, it is the least able to adapt to new environments. It has always proved difficult to breed in captivity, although recently a few zoos have managed to succeed at this. Once widely hunted for its fur, the cheetah now suffers more from the loss of both habitat and prey. The cheetah was formerly considered to be particularly primitive among the cats and to have evolved approximately 18 million years ago. New research, however, suggests that the last common ancestor of all 40 existing species of felines lived more recently than that—about 11 million years ago.


Preservation of Cheetahs


Cheetahs are amongst the most incredible animals on earth. Built for great speed, Cheetahs are specialists when it comes to hunting fast, agile prey animals in broad daylight. Capable of reaching from zero to hundred kilometers an hour within a matter of seconds, these cats have evolved into developing a sleek and slender physique that aids them in their highly specialized lifestyle. Whilst a long and thin body enables Cheetahs to be fast and athletic, this also means that they are lighter and weaker when it comes to conflicts with other large predators of Africa, including lions, hyenas and leopards. The bigger animals waste no opportunity to steal a Cheetah's kill or kill its cubs.

Cheetahs face other threats too. The most significant ones in the last few decades have been conflicts with human and loss of habitat. As human population and development increases in Africa, Cheetahs are finding it increasingly difficult to survive and take down their normal prey animals. As a result, they often go after herds of cattle owned by farmers. This brings them into conflict with people who at times shoot the big cats in retaliation.

Then there is the problem of limited genetic diversity in Cheetahs. Cheetahs have evolved from a relatively restricted gene pool and face multiple biological threats owing to this. They are susceptible to diseases and genetic defects and infant mortality is high. As a result Cheetahs are the most endangered of the three big cats in Africa.

There are a handful of Asiatic Cheetahs in Iran too and research is being conducted to preserve them in their natural habitat. It remains to be soon, though if the successful efforts of Cheetah Conservation Fund can be replicated to help save the beautiful cats there. The need above all is to better educate the natives, in parts where Cheetahs coexist with humans around the world.

About the Author
The author is a blogger about cats and an expert on cheetah.


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