Cheetah Conservation – Otjiwarongo, Namibia

It's our 3rd day in Namibia and I'm so happy to have gotten to see cheetah! From the time I was a little kid, whenever anyone would ask my favorite animal I would answer either horse or cheetah depending on the day. Yeah, horses are pretty cool and all but there's something about the cheetah that has always captured my attention and adoration. Obviously the rarity of them but I think it's also their unusual personality. They're still cats and thereby quite full of themselves but they're definitely the underdog of the feline species (and I am a sucker for an underdog). But, really it's just their speed that gets them by… They're not strong, they're not fighters, they are timid and pretty much get pushed around by everyone else. But who can resist those gorgeous spots, their lithe, graceful bodies and just knowing that you're looking at the fastest land animal? With all our technology, we have a hard time making a machine that can beat a cheetah at 0-60. Here's to you my cheetah friends! You gorgeous things you!

Cheetah tidbits:

+ Only about 10,000 cheetah remain and roughly 4,500 of those are in Namibia making it the country with the highest cheetah population

+ Cheetahs are the lowest ranking feline predator – they often lose their hard earned meal to lion, leopard and hyena. In fact, if anyone challenges them, they don't fight – just immediately give up their dinner.

+ Cheetah moms can have litters of up to four or five cubs but typically only one, if any, survive to adulthood

+ Cheetahs are prone to various genetic disorders because they have a very shallow gene pool.

+ Cheetahs need their prey to be running because they hunt by tripping their target at full speed causing them to fall and allowing the cheetah to suffocate them. They don't have the strength of lion or leopard that can bring down an animal with brute strength.

Cheetah populations were in severe decline because of being killed by farmers. Since cheetah hunt in the day (unlike nearly all other predators) farmers saw a dead goat and saw a cheetah and assumed they were the problem and shot them on sight. Now, through education and cooperative farming techniques, cheetah and farmers are living together peacefully. One major factor in this is the use of Anatolian Shepherds. These dogs live with the flocks and guard them from predators, including cheetah. The Cheetah Conservation Fund that we visited breeds these dogs and has placed over 450 of them with farmers and cannot keep up with the demand for them. There's currently a 2 year waiting list!