International Cheetah Day and Wildlife Conservation Day celebrated at National Zoological Park recently.
- December 4 is marked as International Cheetah Day every year. The day is dedicated to encouraging people worldwide to help this animal win the race against extinction.
- American zoologist Dr Laurie Marker is credited with creating International Cheetah Day. Dr Marker founded the Cheetah Conservation Fund in 1991 and she designated December 4 as International Cheetah Day in 2010.
About Cheetah –
- It is one of the oldest of the big cat species, with ancestors that can be traced back more than five million years to the Miocene era.
- Namibia has the world’s largest population of cheetahs.
- The fastest land animal in the world, a cheetah can reach 112 kms in just three seconds.
- In 1952, the Indian government officially declared the Cheetah extinct in the country. The cheetah is the only large carnivore to have gone extinct in India, primarily due to hunting and habitat loss.
- All cheetah subspecies are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, except the Northwest African and Asiatic cheetah which are critically endangered at present.
Difference between Cheetah and Leopard?
- Cheetahs are commonly misidentified as leopards, and vice versa, since both big cats have prominent yet similar dark spots on their bodies.
- Cheetahs boast a pair of dark-coloured curved lines running between their nose and cheeks, while leopards don’t have any unique face markings.
- The spots on their bodies also differ: the cheetah’s fur is covered with round or oval-shaped spots, whereas the leopard has distinctive spots on its fur called ‘rosettes’, resembling the shape of a rose.
- A cheetah is slender, lighter and taller than a leopard, and it also has semi-retractable claws, allowing for swift movements when chasing prey at high speeds. Leopards, on the other hand, are shorter but bulky and powerful big cats with retractable claws, making them excellent tree climbers.
- Vocally, cheetahs chirp almost like a bird, while leopards roar like other big cats.