Cheetahs - Acinonyx jubatus
The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest land mammal in the world. Its rangy frame supports long limbs and a deep chest cavity, together with a small waist and an extremely flexible spine allows it to sprint up to 60 mph in a short dash. Unlike other cats, the Cheetah’s claws are not fully retractable, and provide additional grip on the ground during a hunting sprint. The large nostrils allow greater amounts of air to enter the lungs, and the tail is particularly long to provide extra balance when cornering.|
The male Cheetah can stand up to 3 feet at the shoulder and weigh up to about 130 pounds but the females are smaller. They can live about 10 years in the wild and are widely distributed throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa. There are currently four African subspecies recognized: Acinonyx jubatus hecki, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus, Acinonyx jubatus fearsoni, and Acinonyx jubatus soemmeringii.
The Critically Endangered Asiatic Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus), which once inhabited India and south-western Asia, survives only in Iran, where there are believed to be fewer than 60 individuals remaining.
A plan to reintroduce Cheetahs to India from Africa has been axed by the courts after experts said the idea was “totally misconceived”. The environment ministry had cleared the $56-million project which involved moving African Cheetahs from Namibia to a wildlife sanctuary in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.
But court-appointed adviser PS Narasimha said: “Studies show that African cheetahs and Asian Cheetahs are completely different, both genetically and also in their characteristics.”
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