Want to see cheetahs up close and personal? Started in 1994, Emdoneni Lodge runs a wonderful Cat Project, designed to care for wild cats that have been orphaned or injured and are in need of rehabilitation. These cats are not used for hunting or trading of any kind. Take one of our daily tours and learn more about our project.
In the meantime, are you interested in learning more about cheetahs? You probably know that they are the fastest land animals on earth but do you know just how fast they can go?
Brush up on your cheetah knowledge with these 25 fun facts:
- The cheetah is the fastest land animal in the world, capable of reaching speeds of up to 113km per hour. While they do tire quickly, they can accelerate from 0 to 100km per hour in just 3 seconds.
- When running, cheetahs use their tail to steer, like a rudder is used on a boat.
- Cheetahs are the only big cat that can turn in mid-air while sprinting.
- Cheetahs will take up to 150 breaths per minute during a high-speed chase – nearly triple their normal respiratory rate.
- A cheetah has between 2 000 and 3 000 spots.
- Cheetahs are smaller than other big cats, weighing in at 45 – 60 kilograms.
- It’s difficult to tell male and female cheetahs apart. However, the male is a bit larger and has a slightly bigger head.
- Cheetahs do not roar. They have a range of other vocalisations such as purring when happy, growling when threatened, and chirping when communicating with their cubs.
- Treated as symbols of royalty, cheetahs were worshipped in ancient Egypt – the Egyptians believed a cheetah goddess named Mafdet carried the pharaoh’s soul to the afterworld.
- As adults, females are solitary animals while male cheetahs tend to live in small groups of 2-3 individuals, usually brothers. At Emdoneni, we isolate our female cheetahs from 18 months to mimic their natural environment as much as possible.
- Before giving birth, female cheetahs select a lair, either a rocky outcrop or an area with tall grass.
- Male cheetahs do not help with the rearing of young.
- The female cheetah is a dedicated and caring mother, only leaving her cubs to hunt. She stays with her cubs for 18 months, teaching them to hunt and survive. We plan to release any cheetah cubs bred at Emdoneni after 18 months. This is quite a challenging undertaking, considering where cheetahs can be released for the best chance of survival.
- The cubs will stay together for another 6 months after their mother leaves them. After that, the female cubs will go off on their own and the males will stay together.
- Cheetah cubs will chase small birds and each other when playing. This is practice for hunting. As we are always trying to create a natural experience for our cubs, we train them to throw balls and toys in an attempt to imitate their mother’s action in the wild. Little hunters, they do catch the odd bird in their enclosure!
- Lions and hyena prey on cheetah cubs. As a form of protection, cheetah cubs have a ridge of hair on their back when they are born. This is called a mantle and confuses predators by making the cubs look like honey badgers.
- Unlike other African cats, they hunt during the day.
- While they have poor night vision, cheetahs have amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5km away.
- Cheetahs hunt gazelles, impala, hares, and sometimes bigger game like zebra.
- Cheetahs hide their prey in a shady spot so other predators won’t see it. With their small size, cheetahs don’t like to fight so they will give up their prey if a larger predator challenges them.
- It is said that cheetahs can’t climb trees but the animals at Emdoneni have their own ideas!
- Cheetahs only need to drink once every three to four days.
- Grooming is a very important to cheetahs. They bond by spending several hours a day cleaning their fur and the Emdoneni staff are often treated to a free grooming and cuddle session.
- Cheetahs usually live 7-10 years in the wild and 16 years in captivity. At Emdoneni, while our offspring are released back into the wild to live as nature intended, our established cats at cannot be as they arrived as rescued pets. Due to the required space per cheetah, our facility has remained small, as per our license agreement.
- Cheetahs are considered an endangered species due to loss of habitat and decreasing food sources. The cheetahs at Emdoneni come to us as a result of being rescued from breeders, people who wrongly thought they would make good pets, or because their mothers were killed by hunters. Today, there are only between 9 000 and 12 000 left, mostly in Africa. This is the reason we are committed to releasing our Emdoneni offspring into the wild.
Every cheetah we rescue will make a difference to this species’ dwindling numbers, and all our cheetah are listed within the Cheetah Conservation Fund Studbook. Emdoneni is committed to the ethical treatment of our cheetahs as wild animals, meant to run free in nature. We strongly oppose any canned hunting experience. To learn ore about this issue, visit http://www.bloodlions.org/born-to-live-wild/
Want to know more about the cheetahs at Emdoneni? Read here.