It's the world's fastest animal reaching speeds of 120 km (70 miles) per hour. The cheetah is beautiful, graceful, magnificent and very endangered. It is the most endangered cat in Africa and the Cheetah Conservation Fund is working to change that. Today is the second annual International Cheetah Day.
We just saw our first cheetah in the wild on our Kenya Safari last week and they are a majestic and beautiful animal. My jaw literally dropped when we pulled up beside a rock on the African Savannah and witnessed a cheetah basking in the late day sun. The cheetah lives a difficult life. It isn't the strongest of cats so it has to be smart and sly when hunting to survive.
Cheetahs have a 50% chance of losing their kill to other predators due to the fact that they used up all their energy hunting for it. Running 120 km per hour takes its toll on their body causing them to overheat. Immediately after catching it's prey, it has to drag it away to a more hidden environment to be eaten. While it cools down, it can't fend off other predators so it is very vulnerable and instead of risking injury, it will give up its kill to anything.
However, predators and food are not the Cheetahs biggest threat. As usual, it is man that is decimating the population. As human development encroaches on its environment and farmers kill cheetahs who are a threat to their livestock, the time for the cheetah is running out. It is heartbreaking to think that this incredible species which has survived millions of years, (it is the oldest living cat species) is facing extinction within 20 years if something isn't done to save it.
International Cheetah Day
When we heard that it was International Cheetah Day today, we had to help to spread the word. I know that we already posted our free leopard wallpaper for you to download today, but we felt that it was important to get the word out about the plight of the cheetah so Dave put together this beautiful collection of photos for you to enjoy. Don't worry though, we're still sticking to our schedule and we have three more days of free wallpaper giveaways including a sho.
To learn more about the cheetah's plight and to see how you can help, visit the Conservation Fund Cheetah.org and for those on facebook, like their Facebook page to join the conversation. Read more about International Cheetah Day at the Huffington Post written by founder Dr. Laurie Marker.
To download photos of the Africa Big 5 got to our previous posts from the week and stay tuned for more on Africa to come! Including your very own photo download of a cheetah.