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December 10, 2018

Cheetahs - 5 incredible facts about our newest members of the Buffelsdrift family

By now we at Buffelsdrift Game Reserve are sure you’re as excited about the new additions to our family as we are! The cheetah is an iconic African animal, well known for its incredible land speeds (it can reach speeds of 112 km/h in 3 seconds) and gorgeously marked pelt. Here are a few other scintillating facts you probably don’t know about this remarkable mammal.

1. They come with their own sunscreen

A key part of that stand-out coat has always been the long, black lines running inside of the eye to the mouth. Those in the know call it the ‘tear line’. Did you know, however, that scientists believe they have this unique marking as a form of sunscreen, shielding their delicate eyes from the harsh African sun and enabling them to spot their prey over massive distances of up to 5km?

2. They are deadly-but more or less silent

Of all the big cats, cheetahs are the only ones that cannot roar. They are a pretty silent cat, but they are able to purr when scared, hurt or happy. Fortunately, this is most often heard when they are happy (especially at Buffelsdrift), and they tend to purr their loudest when grooming or lounging with other cheetahs.

3. You can spot them during the day

If you know anything about the fantastic safaris we offer here at Buffelsdrift, you’ll know we tend to head out at dusk and dawn for the best chance of sightings. This is because the vast majority of predators hunt at night, using the sleepiness of their prey and the cooler temperatures to net them their kills for the evening. The cheetah is a noted exception to this. They hunt during the day, using their silent nature, slim physiques and astounding eyesight to sneak up on their prey- and their bursts of speed to catch it. This prevents them from directly competing with bigger wild cats for food. In fact, they have very bad night vision!

4. Cheetahs lead a friendly life

Their prey may not agree- and we certainly don’t suggest you try and approach one, even those here at Buffelsdrift as part of the cheetah program. However, they are friendly with other cheetahs and can live in sociable groups. It’s common to spot mothers with their young (cheetahs have litters of 2-8 cubs) and siblings who've left home but continue to live together for mutual support. Adult females are often solitary, however, seeking out males only during the mating season.

5. The Cheetah is a very vulnerable animal

Other then a small pocket of wild cheetahs found in Iran- and now reduced to mere dozens- the cheetah is unique to Sub-Saharan Africa. Here, alas, they are also threatened, with only a paltry 9000-12000 of these incomparable cats still left. This is a strong motivating factor in Buffelsdrift joining the fight to keep these critical parts of our wildlife heritage safe from hunters, in an environment where there is no conflict with humans.Which of these fascinating facts did you already know? Why not come and learn more about these remarkable animals- and take the opportunity to see them in the wild- at Buffelsdrift Game Reserve, where our knowledgeable expert guides will ensure you leave armed with everything you need to know about these wonderful cats?

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