About the personality of the cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus

It’s interesting to discover that Google doesn’t know how to search for information about the personality of the cheetah which has the scientific name of Acinonyx jubatus. I have to include this beautiful wild cat’s Latin (scientific) name to make sure that Google understands what I’m talking about.

Cheetahs are relatively timid and retiring compared to the other large feline predators.
Image: Chris Du Plessis – Caters News Agency.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

People just don’t discuss the character or personality of this cat normally. If you search for the ‘character of the cheetah’, the articles refer to the hunting characteristics of this cat which is not what you want or it is certainly not what I want.

So why am I interested in the personality of this elegant wild cat species? Well, the personality is non-standard. To me, this is like a big domestic cat in many respects. That does not mean that you should live with one like a domestic cat because it wouldn’t work at all. But in the wild, in those wide open, dusty plains of Africa, they are quite timid and “retiring” compared to the larger and more aggressive carnivores such as the lions, leopards and hyenas which it tries to avoid. ‘Retiring’ means: shy or modest in human terms.

The relatively sweet natured cheetah is constantly on the lookout for these dangerous predators. They keep their distance and maintain a careful vigilance for other predators. Many cheetah cubs are lost to them.

Female cheetah and cubs
Female cheetah and cubs on slightly raised ground to keep watch and feel safer. Photo: Pixabay.

When resting the cheetah is alert to danger. ‘Sentry duty’ is shared by other family members. You will often see them on slightly raised ground, a mound, scanning the surroundings. My research indicates that in the Mara, 12 minutes of every daylight hour is used to look out for danger.

The cheetah is on the defensive but this is a predator with a very successful kill rate. The fact that they can be retained and employed by humans as hunting animals supports the fact that their character is very amenable to human interaction.

The cheetah has had a long association with people going back at least 4,000 years. You will see artworks featuring tame cheetahs from as long ago as 700-300 BC.

Hunting leopard - a domesticated cheetah
Hunting leopard – a domesticated cheetah. “Akbar Hunting with Cheetahs”, Folio from an Akbarnama 1604.

By the 14th and 15th centuries the sport of coursing with cheetah was extremely popular in England, France and Italy. Large sums of money were spent by landowners and royalty to acquire a pet cheetah which at the time were used to run down roe deer and hares.

You will see many photographs of wild cheetahs cosying up to photographers and other people looking at the African wildlife. They seem to quite like interacting with people and appear to be less frightened of people than the other big predators mentioned. This seems to go against the grain because in a recent study they found that the wildlife of Africa was, in general, terrified of people as just the sound of the human voice caused large, iconic species such as the rhinoceros and the leopard to run away from waterholes.

As to the sounds cheetah’s make, they can bark like dogs and chirrup like birds (and they purr charmingly). This is unlike the sort of sounds that you hear from the big cats.

When I think of the cheetah I also think of the puma (mountain lion). The latter is also quite a retiring animal and also quite slender. They are not that dissimilar in many ways although they live on entirely different continents thousands of miles apart.

Cheetah in UAE (probably Dubai)
Cheetah in car in UAE (probably Dubai)

The cheetah’s relatively sweet personality lends it to abuse by humans who want to keep it as an exotic pet and status symbol. This harms their conservation and promotes the idea that they are human accoutrements for the entertainment self-indulgent people when they should be respected for what they truly are. Cubs are stolen from their moms in the wild.

We should remember the most important thing about cheetahs: their world population size has declined rapidly in the last few centuries. There is a cheatah crisis in terms of conservation. My research indicates that there are a mere 6,500 mature individuals remaining in the wild as at 2021 and the numbers continue to decline. The world has lost about 90% of the cheetah population over the past hundred years. This mirrors other wild cat species sadly.

This beautiful wild cat species, the fastest animal on the planet, has become extinct in 20 countries in the past 50 years.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

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