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Tracy Wilson with a cheetah cub at Safari West (California).
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is one of the world's most well-known and recognizable wild cats. They are native to Africa and have the distinction of being the world's fastest land animal, able to run up to 70 mph. They are easily tamed and very loving; in fact after meeting a tame cheetah, one man was moved to donate a million dollars to cheetah conservation efforts. They have been kept by humans for around 5000 years, often trained for hunting. They purr (very loudly!), hiss, and chirp.
The cheetah is endangered and one of the most vulnerable feline species. Though they are a protected species in Nambia and are protected by CITES and the Endangered Species Act, numbers in the wild and in captivity are declining. They are very sensive to habitat encroachment, and they are often killed by poachers and to protect livestock. The cheetah suffers from a lack of genetic diversity in the wild and in captivity. They reproduce poorly, having infrequent litters with a low survival rate. They do not breed easily in captivity (unlike most other wild cats) and have a much shorter average lifespan than many species.
Obtaining permits to own or breed cheetahs is a difficult and expensive process even for top zoos; if you want a pet cheetah you are out of luck, but you can explore opportunities to help protect the future of these beautiful cats.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund is an innovative group working to protect the survival of the cheetah. One of their tactics is to provide Nambian farmers with Anatolian livestock guarding dogs to protect stock from cheetahs, giving farmers an alternative to shooting the endangered predators. On their website, you can actually donate money to provide such a dog, or to rescue cheetahs trapped by ranchers. They also provide volunteer opportunities. Their site also provides detailed information about the cheetah.
Angel, by Cathryn Hilker The author, a leading cheetah conservationist, talks about Angel, a cheetah she raised and worked with. Read Article....
To see cheetah photos, visit the cheetah area in the ExoticCatz.com Exotic Feline Photo Gallery.
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A cheetah belonging to the Cincinnati Zoo. Photos by Tracy Wilson.