Cheetahs are the weakest animal
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Order carnivore (Carnivora), suborder land carnivores (Fissipedia),
Family cats (Felidae), subfamily real cats (Felinae)
Leopards (Panthera pardus) are definitely one of the highlights of every safari. In some protected areas, the chances of finding some are reasonably good. They stand better in wet weather, because the cats then avoid the wet ground and spend more time in trees, where they are easier to find than in the tall grass. Thanks to their opportunistic way of life, leopards have survived despite heavy hunting for their fur and cattle theft.
The stately tomcat on the right missed 3 wildebeest just in front of our car. He marked before disappearing into the bushes of the Talek River in the Masai Mara.
Widespread from Africa to India.
Like many cats, apart from mother with cubs and during the mating season, they are loners and lead a secret and hidden life.
Every 2 years after a gestation period of 90 to 100 days, the female gives birth to 1 to 3 blind young. They stay in their hiding places for the first 6 weeks and then learn more and more in order to get hold of a territory themselves.
Photo Christian Kemmler
A handsome tomcat crossed our path. Its territory overlaps smaller territories of 3-4 females. Except when they are in heat, they usually avoid each other. Leopards mark their territories by spraying urine and by scratch marks, which at the same time also leave scents from the glands in the paws.
Leopards are widespread across large parts of Africa and have a high tolerance for various types of biotopes. They are mainly found where there are large trees. So that their prey is safe from lions, hyenas and honey badgers, they pull them with great physical effort to trees where they can eat in peace.
Family cats (Felidae), subfamily cheetahs (Acinonychinae)
Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) are for me the epitome of grace, elegance, speed and melancholy.
Usually you can see them under a shady tree outlasting the midday heat and only getting up when the sun has replaced the shade. But often we also had the opportunity to meet a caring mother, to watch her stalking or playing or to see her eating.
The number of cheetahs, like most cats, is on the decline. Various factors certainly play a role, such as increasingly narrow habitats or because they attack domesticated animals. Due to the fragmentation of the protected areas, inbreeding is often inevitable and weakens the population.
We are still happy to see these wonderful animals and hope that our contribution will keep them alive for a long time to come.
The main prey of the cheetahs are Thomson's gazelles. But even rabbits are not spurned and are a good meal for a single animal. Several cheetahs together, also kill wildebeest, zebras or, more rarely, an oryx.
Cheetahs live in open savannahs and semi-deserts and you can also meet them in Africa.
Below is a mother with her 5 cubs eating a Thomson Gazelle. Again and again she looks around carefully to see if there is no danger from lions or hyenas. Cheetahs are the weakest and most vulnerable of the larger carnivores.
Cheetahs have 3 - 8 cubs per litter. The young have the typical silver back mane up to 10 weeks. Up to the 15th week of life they are still able to retract their claws and climb trees. The little ones are weaned after 6 weeks, but stay with their mother until they are around 18 months old. She leaves this when she knows that her young can hunt themselves and thus have a good chance of survival.
Sometimes you meet cheetah mothers with 6 young cubs. But it is rare for them to bring them all up to adulthood like this one here.
Below 4 cheetahs on a wildebeest crack. Cheetahs share their prey without fighting. Photo Richard Kiprotich, Masai Mara
Male cheetahs form interest groups after they have left their mother at 17-23 months. Usually there are 3 - 4 males who patrol an area and mate with the resident females in heat. One is the leader in hunting and mating. The cats don't have to be related to each other.
The 3 males born around 1999 in Lewa Conservancy have ripped off a Thomson Gazelle and are now licking each other clean. Unfortunately, the leader was so badly injured by lions in March 2011 that he did not survive despite veterinary help. Hopefully the other two can continue to successfully hold their territory. In 2014 I found out that the other two had also passed away. But new male cheetahs have moved into the territory.
Cheetahs are the only cats that cannot retract their claws as adults. They serve as spikes in their fast-paced chases with speeds of up to 100 km / h.
Cheetahs are the weakest of the big hunters. A spotted hyena approached this female cheetah. But not in a direct line, but in a zigzag and without indicating that she really wants to go to the spotted cat. Although the female cheetah has no prey, the hyena came and the pictures show how the female cheetah behaved. Then the hyena followed the cheetah at a suitable distance, always in the hope of being able to steal prey.
Generic group small cats (Felini)
Servals (Felis serval) are small cats with a shoulder height of 60 cm and a short tail. With their large ears, they locate the position of their prey (mostly rodents) in the tall grass. With high leaps they catch birds in the air. Unfortunately, they are generally shy.
They can be found in Africa in savannahs, near swamps and gallery forests.
Superfamily crawling cats and hyenas
(Herpestoidea), family hyenas (Hyanidae)
The different calls of the Spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta) are among the most frequently heard tones wherever they occur. They live in clans that are dominated by the larger females and raise the young in a common den. Despite their reputation as scavengers, spotted hyenas are very good hunters. If they do not find a good opportunity to steal their prey from lions, leopards and cheetahs, they are themselves very successful hunters and also kill larger animals such as zebras and wildebeests. The muscle-packed long neck and strong teeth even enable them to crack buffalo bones to get at the nutritious bone marrow.
Hyenas love to lie in water and mud or to be in the shade in large tubes.
Many studies of spotted hyenas have revealed how interesting and diverse their social life is. Copulations only last for seconds and no aggression is developed.
Most of the 2 boys are born black and already with canine teeth. For a long time they are much more woolly than the old animals. If they are of the same sex, the stronger kills the weaker in the cave in order to eliminate a competitor.
Below: This spotted hyena clanin the Ngorongoro crater counted 50 animals. They tore a foaling zebra. Hyenas do not make very high demands on their habitat as long as there are antelopes and zebras to hunt. As a result, they are mostly found in savannas and semi-deserts in Africa. The greater the density of prey, the larger the clans. The largest clans are found in the Ngorongoro area. Widespread in Africa.
One Striped cyan To meet (Hyaena hyaena) is very lucky. They live in dry, often inaccessible areas between bushes and rocks. Everything that is edible, from carrion, fruit, insects, birds to small antelopes or antelope fawns that they have killed themselves is not spurned by them. They are nocturnal and sometimes early morning; related females share a den and hunting area.
Striped hyenas are endangered in their entire range from Africa, the Middle East to Asia. They are persecuted and killed by people for various reasons: in North Africa the brain is eaten as an aphrodisiac, the hair is worn as a talisman that protects against evil spirits, in Egyptian oases it is poisoned, in Ethiopia it is protected and yet it is licensed issued for their shooting, in Tanzania many are run over at night, in Niger their destruction is officially approved. They hardly cause any harm to pets, but are often mistaken for the larger spotted hyena out of ignorance. The biggest factor leading to their reduction is the habitat destruction of the already very ailing fragile semi-desert ecosystem in Africa.
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