Cheetah

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Introduction

Animal: Cheetah


Research Location: Namibia

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Why This Animal?

I choose the Cheetah because it is my favorite animal and it is really eye catching. I love the Cheetah because it is a really beautiful animal.The black oval shaped spots and the yellowish brown color on the Cheetah blend together and blur when it runs which I like. I like how the Cheetah is so smart that it hides in tall grasses and elevated places when looking for prey. That is why I choose to do the Cheetah as my animal to research.


Cheetah Food Web

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The Cheetah's Food Web



Research Location


I arrived about a week ago in North Central Namibia. I am traveling with the “Cheetah Conservation Fund”. Today was our first exploring day where we were allowed to leave the headquarters and go try to find Cheetahs. It is so dry here! Even though it is January it is currently 102°F out! I guess that’s because we are on the opposite side of the world. Our guide told us it might rain later this month because the most rain is accumulated during these months. So anyways I walked out the back door and we are literally in the heart of cheetah territory! After quietly hiking around a bit, I had come across rhinos, elephants, and giraffes! But I had no sign of cheetahs. cheetahs are carnivores which means they eat meat such as elephants that are herbivores. The rhinos, elephants and giraffes were all eating grasses so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t see cheetahs yet. As I continued to explore I didn’t see many trees but I did see some wildflowers. Then I spotted a cheetah! It was feasting on a dead zebra! It was amazing to watch but the day was coming to an end and I really needed to get back before it got dark.

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A Map of Namibia




Observation Journal


Day 1- Today we arrived in Namibia with the “Cheetah Conservation Fund”. The climate is really hot and there is some slight fog close to the ground. It’s January, which is summer here. The riverbeds are dry and the guides say that it might rain soon because of the clouds gathering in the sky. There is some clouds but for the most part it’s sunny.


Day 2- I’m so excited! I am on my way to see cheetahs. We just passed a couple of camelthorn trees. In just the last second a gazelle came running past us! It seems to be running away from something… maybe a predator? Oh here comes what we are looking for! A cheetah! I could barely catch a glimpse of it! Cheetahs can run up to 75mph! This one must have been going that fast! All I saw was a blur of all the colors of it’s coat! It must be lunch time because this cheetah was definitly trying to catch this gazelle. The gazelle had a white splotch of color on its backside. Their top fur is a light brown or a tan color. It’s antlers looked sharp. I’m guessing it was a female though because the horns were slightly smaller then I’ve seen on other male gazelles. The day is coming to an end so I’m making my way back to the “Cheetah Conservation Fund” center. My goal on this trip is to observe the cheetah closer and learn a lot more about it in it’s habitat!


Day 3- Today I am concentrating on studying the appearance of a cheetah I saw. The cheetah obviously belongs in the desert biome. I can tell that the cheetah has adapted to the water situation because it doesn’t have to take frequent journeys to find water. It also has a adaption relating to it’s appearance. The tan, nuetral, colors that make up the cheetah’s coat can camoflauge it when needing to hide from predators or prey.

Day 4- As I was observing a cheetah eat today I noticed it has very large teeth. As I looked in to this subject I found out that a cheetah has large teeth so that it can breathe easily. It also makes it have large breathing passages. A cheetah’s eyes are also set high which is probably for the same reason. This is considered an adaptation because the cheetah lives in the desert biome. In the desert there is a lot of dust so the big nasal passages help the cheetah not to get so much dust stuck in its nose (not to mention be able to breathe when running 71mph!). So today I learned a little about the cheetah’s appearance and adaptations.

Day 5- It rained yesterday night so the grasses have gotten a drink of water and everything looks really beautiful! The long grass is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing to the cheetah because it can hide in it to look for prey and a curse to the prey because well, they are going to get hunted by cheetahs. Cheetahs love the tall grasses for this reason. Some of the animals I saw the cheetah hiding from today were: wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles. I've noticed that the cheetahs also like to use fallen logs to wait for prey behind.

Day 6- Recently I have noticed a symbiotic relationship with the cheetah and hyena. They both are competing daily for the same food. The hyena and the cheetah are both carnivores which means they eat meat (other animals). A common animal they both eat is the zebra. Some days I will see a herd of zebras. Zebras are horses so they mostly travel in groups. But some days, like today, I see them traveling by themselves. Today I didn't see any cheetahs eating and I'm guessing this happened because the hyena got the zebra today. If there were more hyenas and less zebras, that would probably effect the cheeath population as well.


Wildlife Monitoring Technique- Motion Sensor Camera

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Motion Sensor Camera Picture
Cameras were set up in the surrounding area of our camp. Late last night our motion sensor camera caught an amazing picture of a cheetah! The cheetah seems to be checking out this mysterious shiny thing that has a new home on one of the cheetah's favorite trees. In this picture the cheetah is arching his back which means he feels threatened somehow by the camera or possibly by another animal that was near by. My conclusion is that the cheetah was making his way back to a tree or bush to sleep by or under and heard a noise coming from over by where our camera was set up. The cheetah most likely had just had dinner and wasn't quite full so he was hoping that this would be a chance for "dessert". When we came back to the site in the morning there was no evidence that the cheetah had been eating there but he could of taken his food away. I choose the Motion Sensor Camera technique because it can tell you if cheetahs do roam around in the area that I want to look for them in. It also can give you some hints on what a paticular animal might have been doing at a certain time.

Fellow Researcher Profile- Finn The Border Collie

Finn is an amazing researcher that studies cheetah "scat" to learn more about the animal. Finn is trained. He has a good sense of smell. He is owned by the Philidelphia Zoo. If you haven't already figured it out; he is a dog. Border Collie to be exact. Finn's job is to use his awesome sense of smell to find the feces and track the movements of the fastest animal in the world, the cheetah. When choosing the animal to do the job, The Cheetah Conservation Fund chose a dog because the dog doesn't influence the behavior of the cheetah. Dogs are also good at finding the exact location of the target species. Geneticists then study the scat to find out the size of the cheetah, what they eat, where they were, the gender, and if they are under stress. Finn is helping by keeping scientists knowledgable about the species.
Finn used the technique of using your sense of smell to learn more about the cheetah by observing it's scat. I chose the monitoring technique of Motion Sensor Camer which helped me learn about when the cheetah was going places, what it was doing, and how it gets to where it's going. Both of these techniques show the researcher where the cheetah is or was. I think this is an important piece of information to learn because then we can make the enviroment better for the cheetah and other things relating to that.
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Finn and Owner


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Using The Research




Bibliography

1.) "About the Cheetah (Acinonyx Jubatus)." 301 Moved Permanently. Web. Jan. 2012. <http://www.bigcats.com/cat-species/acinonyx jubatus>.

2.) "Acinonyx Jubatuscheetah." ADW: Acinonyx Jubatus: INFORMATION. Web. Jan. 2012. <http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Acinonyx_jubatus.html>.

3.) "Cheetah." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. Feb. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheetah>.

4.)
"Cheetah Food Hunting Stalk Sprint." Cheetah Fastest Land Animal Endangered Big Cat. Web. Winter 2012. <http://www.cheetahspot.com/food.php>.

5.) "Cheetah Range." Cheetah Fastest Land Animal Endangered Big Cat. Web. Winter 2012. <http://www.cheetahspot.com/range.php>.

6.) "Cheetahs." National Geographic. Web. Winter 2012. <http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/animals/creaturefeature/cheetah/>.