It’s hard to imagine that when you’re driving down the freeway at 65 mph, there is an animal that could be running faster than your moving vehicle. I’m not sure about you all but my asthma and motivation does not even allow me to run ¼ of a mile, much less at 70 mph! We are talking cheetahs today, their plight and how YOU can help!
What the heck is a cheetah?
Acinonyx jubatus (scientific name) or Duma (Swahili) are other names for the famed, fast spotted cat. Cheetahs are considered a lesser cat because of their lack of hyoid bone. You have hyoid bone floating around in your neck, just like lions and tigers! This bone is what allows lions and tigers to roar. Since cheetahs lack this floating bone, they purr to vocalize, just like a house cat.
The cheetahs enlarged heart and lungs allow them to reach speeds of up to 70 mph, for about 100 yards or so. If they were to run any longer than that, they would risk overheating. However, when they do catch their prey, they will deliver a bite to the neck to suffocate the prey. And with a flat tail, they can change direction on a dime to keep up with the mostly small antelope that they hunt. Real life cheetah runs can be seen at zoos across the United States including: Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Cincinnati Zoo.
So why are they in trouble?
That’s a great question! Since we now know why cheetahs are awesome, I have to deliver the sad news that they’re in trouble! Due to habitat loss and a high mortality rate, cheetahs are critically endangered. Up to 75% of cheetah cubs do not make it past the age of 3 months old. Roughly 40% fall victim to genetic issues, and other 50% fall to predators. Holy cheetah, that’s a lot! Cheetahs will be extinct in our lifetime if something isn’t done to aid the issue. Reality check much?
Now that I love cheetahs, how do I help?
Another great question, my friend. What if I told you helping save the cheetah was as easy as going to have a fun day at your local zoo? An easy google search will tell you if your local zoo donates money to the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF). If they do, go visit! Your money will help wild cheetahs as well as many other organizations that zoo’s donate to. If your local zoo does not donate money to CCF, then you can visit http://cheetah.org/you-can-help/donate/ . There are various donation options, including sponsoring a dog.
Wait, what. I thought we were talking about cheetahs…we are! The Cheetah Conservation Fund works to provide Anatolian Shepherds to farmers. When Anatolian Shepherds are raised with farmer’s herds of livestock, they protect them from cheetahs. Since cheetahs are fairly shy cats, the dogs bark is enough to scare the cheetah away. This keeps the livestock safe from the cheetahs, and the cheetahs safe from the business end of a farmer’s gun! You can learn about this program and everything that the Cheetah Conservation Fund does at www.cheetah.org .