With striking large amber eyes and contoured tear-like lines that emphasise their delicate face, it’s without a doubt that cheetah are one of Africa’s most attractive animals. Built for speed, their legs are relatively long for their streamline body shape and this, along with their large heart and lungs assist in the short burst of speed that they need to chase and bring down their prey.
Being the world’s fastest land mammal, cheetah can reach speeds of around 70 miles an hour (110km/h) at full sprint. But it’s not their ability to run at such high speeds that makes them uniquely skilful creatures, but their ability to actually accelerate extremely quickly. From standing still, a cheetah can accelerate by 10 miles per hour with every stride it takes. This means that from the starting blocks, within 6 to 7 strides, that cheetah is at its top speed of 60/70 miles p/h. That’s faster than any super car. These sprints do come at a cost though and shortly after the race, this handsome hunter will need to rest for a while.
It is always a delight to find a cheetah on the property. Glancing around in a paranoid fashion every few minutes, they never remain still for too long. Always on the lookout for danger, this beautiful, yet illusive creature is always a wonder to behold. However, with only an estimated 6,600 remaining in Africa, cheetah are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN Red list, making it even more of a privilege to see them. At Singita, we have been treated with several of these cats moving through the southern parts our reserve and most recently a male has been lingering around these grassland areas. We look forward to following his journey as we enter the beginning of a new year.
Pen and ink drawings by Kirsten Tinkler, and photographs taken by Nick Du Plessis.