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Acinonyx jubatus 

Linguistics
Actual scientific name :   Acinonyx jubatus 
     
Old scientific name :    
     
French name :   Guépard
     
English name :   Cheetah
     
Vernacular name :  
Ebalebale (Kisonge); Xhisekesa, Xhisengantambo,chinkomankoma (Kikaonde) ; mbalabala (Tshiluba) ; cisumpa-ntambwe (Kiluba); kande (Tshiluba); masukwe, pumputa, isangantambo, isekela, sukuta (Kilamba); chinjinda, chisama, chisekesa (Lunda) ; duma (Kiswahili) ; ichinseketa,chinseketa, mbale ? Dibalabala ? (Kibemba)
 


 

Zoology
Call :  
     
Description :   In Hindi, cheetah means «dotted». Fawn to of-white colouration, belly almost white. Body dotted with rounded black spots. These spots have a diameter of 2 to 4 cm and are present on the whole body, except for the throat and the abdomen. Sometimes, when recessive genes are transmitted by both parents, these dots become larger and a black band runs from the head to the tail. These so-called “king cheetahs” have been thought to represent a sub-species but we know today that they are merely an aberrant colour form.
A short crest is present on the back. Tail is ringed by 4 to 6 black rings and with a white tip. These rings differ between individuals and helps in identifying the animals. Head is small and muzzle is short. Ears are small and round. There is a black line running from the inner corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth (the ‘tear-line’). These lines probably enhance its vision by diminishing light reflection.
Teeth are quite small. Nasal passages are large, ensuring a good oxygenation while running. Body is slender and legs are long.
Shoulder height: between 67 and 94 cm, length: between 190 and 230 cm (with an average tail of 75 cm).
Bones are light and backbone is very flexible. The long tail is used as a balance device during its fast sprint. Acinonyx jubatus is the only cat that does not have fully retractile claws (in greek, Acinonyx means ‘does not move its claws’). This helps cheetahs more traction and adherence while running.
Cheetah is the fastest terrestrial mammal, able to move forward 7 to 8 meters in one stride and completes 4 strides per second. However, even if speeds up to 110 km/h can be reached, these can only be sustained for about 275 m.  
     
Habitat :   Open savannah, semi-desert, grassland.  
     
Behaviour :   Mostly diurnal. Hunts in the morning and in the evening. Unlike other cats, slowly approach their prey and then sprint in for the kill.
Usually females live alone. Young females leave their native groups. Young males usually leave their native groups together to form coalitions. Adult males and females only mix top mate.
They growl, pur rand emit high pitched chirrups.
Average lifespan: between 12 and 14 years. 
     
Diet :   Mammals of up to 40 kg such as impala, puku, Thompson’s gazelle, hares, ostriches, warthogs, young kudu and Guinea fowls. 
     
Life history :   Mate all year round.
After a gestation period of 90 to 95 days, females give birth to a litter of 3 to 5 cubs weighing between 150 and 300 g and measuring 30 cm long at birth. Cubs have long greyish hair. During the first few weeks, mothers move their cubs around to avoid predators. They are weaned at 3 or 6 months but usually stay with their mothers for 13 to 20 months. During that period, mothers teach their young to hunt.
They reach their sexual maturity around 2 years old. 
     
Distribution in Katanga :   view map  
 
 
History, Ethnology, Sociology
Interactions with humans :   Cheetah is not dangerous and never attacks humans. 
     
Taboos :   Customarily, cheethas' skins are saved for the chiefs. 
     
Legends, believes, folklore :    
     
Fishing, hunting :   The cheetah was not a trophy looked for by leisure hunters. Today, it is totally protected. 
     
Feeding :    
     
Breeding, taming :   Cheetahs are easily tamed and there are numerous cases of tamed or semi tamed cheetahs. 
     
Uses of skin or other body parts :   Skin is used as a rug on which chiefs seat.  
  


Warning :

This database was established according to official pieces of work and with the help of famous scientists. However, there might be some errors.

The vernacular names were collected in the field and in the colonial literature from the first part of the 20th century. The monks who established the first dictionaries were not necessarily informed naturalists. Therefore, errors must have been committed.

We invite everyone who could help us to improve this working tool to contact us in order to correct us and share her/his knowledge with us.



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