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Acinonyx jubatus


The cheetah is a large cat that can run at speeds of up to 75 mph for short distances. It has semi-retractable paws and has the ability to accelerate to 62 mph in 3 seconds. The black spots on all but its underside provide excellent camouflage. It has an enlarged heart and lungs that allow it to attain such fast speeds running in short bursts. The long, black "tear streak" lines run from the corners of its eyes to its mouth. The cheetah is a carnivore and a diurnal, or daytime, hunter.


Cheetahs inhabit most of Africa and parts of the Middle East. They thrive in regions where prey is abundant and may be found in savannas, grasslands, areas consisting of mostly thick brush, even semi-desert climes, and also in mountainous areas.


This cheetah was seen at the Rhino & Lion Park outside Johannesburg. After sitting briefly while I took the first image posted, the cheetah turned and walked into the high grass. Within five feet of entering the grass, it could no longer be seen due to its excellent camouflage. As the cheetah is a diurnal hunter, I have often wondered if evolution provided its black "tear streaks" to minimize glare to some extent when chasing prey, just as some participants in football and a few other sports use "blacking" under their eyes to do such.

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Flavio Oliveira
Flavio Oliveira 5 years ago

Regarding your notes, I've read about two hypothesis for the cheetah's tear streaks. One is just as you said: a protection against the intense sunlight when chasing pray. The other is as a sort of mask that makes it look scarier to other predators. A bit like you painting your face with two black stripes below your eyes and then roaring at people; I bet they'd be scared too!

Rustenburg Local Municipality, North West, South Africa

Lat: -25.57, Long: 27.46

Spotted on May 27, 2011
Submitted on Feb 16, 2014


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