INTERNATIONAL CHEETAH DAY
TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL CHEETAH DAY
The world’s fastest land animal is racing against extinction and the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) invites wildlife lovers from all over the globe to celebrate this feline on 4 December. This year marks the fifth anniversary of this International Cheetah Day, designed to generate awareness for the cheetah, which, with fewer than 10,000 remaining in the wild, is sadly Africa’s most endangered big cat.
The cheetah is not only the fastest, but it is also the oldest of all the big cats. It has survived more than three million years through the Ice Age and a genetic bottleneck, but its numbers have declined by 90% in the last 100-years due to human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss. With so few cheetah remaining in the wild, the world’s cheetah population is at great risk of extinction.
With more than 40-years’ experience working with the species, Dr. Marker is widely recognized as a leading expert on the cheetah. In 1990, after witnessing the wild cheetahs being exterminated by African farmers, she launched CCF and permanently relocated to Namibia to do something about this crisis.
International Cheetah Day aims to educate young learners about the species, its plight, and inspire people of all ages to get involved with conservation efforts.
A few fun facts about the cheetah.
1. The cheetah is the world’s fastest land animal. They can run 70 mph (or 110 kph), which is as fast as cars drive on the highway. The cheetah can reach its top speed in just 3 seconds!
2. The cheetah has a long, muscular tail that has a flat shape. The tail almost functions like a rudder on a boat because they use it to help control their steering and keep their balance when running very fast.
3. Cheetahs have “tear marks” that run from the inside corners of their eyes down to the outside edges of their mouth. These marks help reflect the glare of the sun when they are hunting during the day. They work just like the black marks that football players put under their eyes during the games. These marks also work like the sights on a rifle, to help the cheetah “aim” and stay focused on their prey when they are hunting.
4. The cheetah’s fur is covered in solid black spots, and so is their skin! The black fur actually grows out of the black spots on their skin.
5. When cheetahs are running full speed, their stride (length between steps) is 6-7 meters (21 feet). Their feet only touch the ground twice during each stride.
6. Cheetahs are carnivores, and feed mostly on smaller antelope like springbok, steenbok, Thomson’s gazelle, and duiker. They usually chase down their prey and then bite its throat, killing it by suffocation.
7. A mother cheetah usually cares for anywhere from 2 to 8 cubs per litter, but cubs are often the target of other predators and many do not survive past the first year.