CHEETAH, The Fastest Land Animal on Earth

This week I thought I would take you on a great adventure to meet the fastest land animal on earth and that of course is the Cheetah. I was the
07 May 2016 13:53
CHEETAH,  The Fastest Land Animal on Earth
Ajay Bhai Amrit interacts with one of the world’s fastest creatures. Photo: Ajay Bhai Amrit

This week I thought I would take you on a great adventure to meet the fastest land animal on earth and that of course is the Cheetah.

I was the guest of a private game reserve in Bloemfontein, South Africa which looks after and protects these vulnerable species that are now on the highly endangered list.

The reason they are on this list of endangered animals is quite simple ¬- in the last one hundred years almost 90 per cent of the Cheetahs land areas for hunting has disappeared to make way for industrialisation of the land for humans. This has therefore made it almost impossible for the Cheetah to enjoy a safe habitat to live in.

The first time I encountered this wonderful animal I was surprised how sleek and powerful it was; if there was ever an animal built for speed it was the Cheetah. I must say I had no fear at all when I was confronted with one in the game reserve in fact it was a pleasure to get up close and personal with this speedster.

Talking of speed, the Cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 112 km/h or 70 mph in a matter of a few seconds. This speed is designed to catch its prey off guard and attack it. It is also good to have this speed advantage over all the other big cats as Cheetahs are often chased off by lions and leopards in the wild.

They are quite light for a big cat weighing in at around 50kgs but that weight is pure muscle and quick reflexes.  When I was playing with one of the big large male Cheetahs I was surprised just how fast and agile they were, in fact I tried to get one of the big males to chase me, but within a few seconds he was right next to me and lost total interest as I was far too slow for him.

One of the common mistakes that we all make is distinguishing the leopard from the cheetah after my interaction with both animals I found out it was quite easy. Firstly the leopard is far heavier and bigger built around 80kgs and one of the tell-tale signs of a Cheetah are its black tear markings that run down its face. Also if there was a chance encounter with these two animals the leopard would not hesitate to kill the Cheetah.

While the Cheetah can outrun anyone in the wild the downfall to this is the fact that this animal can only sustain these incredible speeds for short bursts therefore it is important it gets very close to its prey before unleashing its incredible speed to catch it and ultimately eat it.

While in South Africa I must admit I was mesmerised by all the wonderful animals that roam in the wild and on the vast animal game parks. These creatures range from lions, leopards, giraffes, rhinos, elephants and the list continues.

Unfortunately most of the animals I have listed are now on the endangered list because of over hunting, illegal poaching and land infringement therefore making it more difficult day-by-day for these majestic animals to survive in the wild.

The good news is conservation parks and private game reserves are fighting back and trying to increase the population of all these wild animals and release them back into the wild.

I do hope this simple introduction to the Cheetah and all these wonderful and quite amazing animals has brightened your day, it certainly made me appreciate them so much more after my close encounters with them.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

The writer is a Fiji Sun  columnist.


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