Monday, December 22, 2008

Animal Spotlight: The Cheetah

Known as the world's fastest land animal, the cheetah falls at the bottom of the hierarchy of big cats, with the lion first and the leopard second. The cheetah is mostly a solitary animal and does not benefit from pooling of resources when it comes to kills, like the lion prides.

The secret to a cheetah's speed is its supple spine, which coils and uncoils like a spring, catapulting the cat forward. In the cheetah, the hind limbs push sequentially, rather than together, as in slower animals. Thus for about half the time, a running cheetah has all four feet off the ground and is literally flying. In the air, the flying cheetah moves so fast that it uses its tail as a rudder.

Such speed demands a short, enormous surge of energy. On its hunts, the cheetah is well aware of the limits of its built-for-speed body. Most other cats hunt at night and ambush their prey. Cheetahs will hunt at night, but are frequently seen hunting in the early morning or late afternoon. A cheetah stalks its prey until only about 50 yards separate the hunter and the hunted. At this point the cheetah charges, its elongated eyes giving it a wide-angle view as the prey tries to evade with tight turns. Lions give up the chase after 100 yards or so, but cheetahs can run more that three miles, at an average speed of 45 miles per hour. The hunt may end in a sprint that lasts from 20 seconds to 60 seconds.

Here are five fantastic safari destinations to see the cheetah:

1. Kruger National Park
2. Okavango Delta
3. Hwange National Park
4. South Luangwa National Park
5. Madikwe Game Reserve

Another exciting and educating way to spend time with cheetahs, is to visit The Cheetah Outreach program at Spier in Stellenbosch. You can visit for the day and spend time with the cheetahs. Cheetah Outreach is a fantastic program by promoting the survival of the cheetah through environmental education.

Book a trip with Hills of Africa Travel and we will guarantee you Live the Magic of Africa. Contact us today and we can help you plan your trip of a lifetime.


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Hills of Africa Travel said...

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