Cheetah: A Feline Greyhound
We were fortunate to have an up-close-and-personal experience with a pair of cheetahs in Tarangire National Park. The pair was sharing an early morning meal of a dik-dik, purring so loudly we could hear them from 10 meters away!
Cheetahs are only occasionally seen in our study area, so spotting one (or two) is always a treat. Richard Estes calls this sleek and graceful cat a “felid version of a greyhound,” specialized for speed. They have an unusual social system for carnivores, whereby males hold small territories and females and non-territorial males roam across large areas.
Outside the Serengeti Ecosystem, cheetahs are rare indeed. Even in the Serengeti, scientists estimate only about 210-280 individuals, and a total of 1,180 cheetahs occur in all of Tanzania (10% of the global population). This beautiful creature, the fastest land animal in the world, is facing in increasing risk of extinction in the wild due to habitat loss and capture for the captive animal trade (from the newly published A Field Guide to the Larger Mammals of Tanzania, Foley et al. 2014).
Enjoy a short video of this playful pair and be inspired to help protect this extraordinary yet fragile animal.
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