Mother cheetah and cub, Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
© gudkovandrey/Adobe Stoc
Info. Cheetah mother and cub
Today we're watching a mother cheetah and her cub in Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve. These agile and lightweight cats are built for speed, with compact heads, thin torsos and long legs that help them accelerate up to 120 kilometres per hour when hunting gazelles or antelopes. Because cheetahs have uniquely flexible spines, they're able to make sharp, sudden turns, even during a high-speed chase. Individual cheetahs tend to avoid one another, but a cub like this one will stay with its mother for about 18 months, and a female cub may stick with mum into adulthood. Some males are territorial and will form small groups, called coalitions, to defend a prized area.
Into the 19th century, cheetahs ranged across most of sub-Saharan Africa and were also abundant in the Middle East and India. Today, they live in small, isolated populations in southern and central Africa, with just a few dozen cheetahs left in central Iran. In 2016, their total population was estimated at 7,100 worldwide. While cheetahs are the fastest land animal on Earth, they can't outrun human encroachment and loss of habitat, and are considered a vulnerable species.