When on safari in Uganda the Cheetah is on the top of many tourists’ wish list for the game drives in Uganda national parks and game reserves. The Cheetah is a lean and muscular cat, standing taller than a leopard but weighing only about half as much 88 – 132 pounds. Its round spots are dotted all over its body, not grouped in rosettes like a leopard’s, and it has a distinctive “tear stripe” running from the eye to jaw. Its silhouette is long and lanky. Unlike the rest of the cat family, the cheetah does not have retractable claws.
They are the most endangered of the three large cats perhaps because, unlike leopards, they are unable to adapt easily to the changes wrought to their habitat by humans, who are gradually forcing them into marginal areas to the remote Kidepo Valley National Park.
Cheetahs are diurnal animals that prefer to hunt at dawn. They are generally silent, solitary animals except for consorting pairs and females with dependent offspring. Young animals that have just left their mothers tend to stay for a time, and males sometimes band together temporarily to defend a territory.
Males and females socialize only while the female is on heat. They select breeding areas that have a reasonable number of gazelles, with good hiding-place for cubs, perennial water and relatively low densities of possible cub predators. Males congregate in these areas hoping to mate with local females.
After a gestation period of three months, cheetah cubs are born blind, naked and helpless. Litter size varies from one to eight though few cats survive predators. Females hide them away for two to three weeks in dens, often in dense vegetation or rocks. Mothers hunt for food, leaving the cubs hiding, and periodically returning to suckle them. Every few days she moves her litter between dens. Although adults are not very vulnerable to predators, cheetah cubs are preyed on by hyenas, leopards, and lions.
Cubs may be born at any time of the year, but there is a peak which coincides with the appearance of gazelle fawns, which are easy prey for females.
Cheetahs prefer the open plain savannah, grassland and mountains landscape found in Pian Upe Game Reserve and Kidepo Valley National Park, they prey on relatively small animals like antelopes, relying on the sight to locate, stalk and begin pursuits. They select vigilant animals on the edge of them as victims. Although Cheetahs are the world’s fastest land mammal, they cannot maintain their top speed of 65 m/h for more than about 300 meters, so unless they can get closer to their prey undetected before starting their chase, they are rarely successful.
Cheetahs use their forefeet to knock the running animals off balance, and then clamp tightly on its neck to strangle it. The dead prey will be dragged into cover, where the Cheetahs will feed. Females will call their cubs to the kill with a soft nap. Adults will not hunt again until about four days after a successful kill.
The best wildlife park to see Cheetahs in Uganda is the remote Kidepo Valley National Park and Pian Upe Game Reserve northeastern Uganda. Kindly contact Adyeri Creations Limited for more about big cats Safaris in East Africa.
Where to stay
· Apoka Safari Lodge
· Kidepo safari Lodge
· Kidepo Savannah Lodge
· Apoka Rest Camp
· Buffalo Base