Lance Hinson
Cheetah
Acinonyx jubatus
Description:
external image images?q=tbn:nwZwc6XElX7ezM:
Cheetahs are part of the mammalian class and fall into the category of Felidae, the cat family. At their early cub age they are born with a mane which is part of the reason they were called "jubatas" as mane is its meaning in Latin. Cheetahs have a distinct fur coat that is tan with round black spots covering their whole body, which helps provide camoflauge. Adult cheetha's weigh anywhere from 79 to 140 pounds, 26-37 inch talls, and 45-53 inches long. The only distinction between the male and females are they are slightly bigger and have larger heads. Cheetahs are carnivours and prey on mostly mammals under 88 pounds and prey include sprinkbok, impala, hares, small wildabeasts and zebras, and their favorite food the gazelle. Cheethas unlike most cats prey early in the morning or late in the evening so it's not too hot and when there is just enough light to see and they rely on their vision instead of scent . As they are not the most powerful animals they rely on tripping their prey during the chase and then suffocating them by biting on their neck and even cutting off their arteries. Cheethas are in mating all year long and females are in gestation periods for about 3 months and the average litter size is only 2 to 4 cubs that are born with their spots. Mothers often move there kids every few days and after 5 to 6 six weeks they began preying for their own food.

Habitat
Cheetahs are located in eastern, central, and southwestern Africa, even though the total population is less than 10,000, in areas that provide camoflauge with their tall grass though small isolated populations that only total up to 200 live in Iran. Historically they ranged all over Africa, Asia, and even parts of India. Cheethas can live in variety of habitats but rely on open areas with abudant prey like semidesert, prairie, and open savannahs that all have thick grass for them to camoflauge in. Cheethas do not hibernate and only in small increments migrate only to follow their prey. They live above ground their whole lives. Since cheethas have only short bursts they are vulnerable to a range of predator species in Africa and about half the times they kill something they must give it up to another animal instead of risking injury. 90% of all cubs are killed in their first year by predators like lions, leopards, hyenas, wild dogs, and on rare occasion eagles. Mothers heavily protect their young and sometimes male groups will chase away predatory species.

Problems
Cheetahs are encountering several problems but their most sever are habitat loss due to humans and decline in the species that they prey upon. Cheetahs are also endangered as they are poached for their skin as its a highly reguarded status symbol and the high mortatily rates of cubs. Scientists also suggest that poor diversity and genetic breeding lead to abnormalities to hurt their chances of living in the wild.

Solutions
Nambia is the home for cheetahs reserection as it has the Cheetah Conservation Funds as its mission is to be the worlds resource that is charged with protecting the cheetah population and ensuring its future. They conduct reasearch in cheetha's ecosytems to develop best practices in reasearch, education, and ecology and creating a sustainable model that all cheethas and humans will benefit from. There is also the South African Cheetah Conservation Foundation that assists in training and sharing programs that provide knowledge to all countires and what they can do to help the cause. There are minimal breeding programs being done for cheetahs though the numbers are beginnig to increase as scientits are becoming more and more worried about their population decline. Stricter poaching and endangered species laws helped to save some populations and research continues to let us develop more suitable environments for them to thrive in.

Sources:
Cheetah; IUCN
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cheetah#Conservation_status

http://www.defenders.org/wildlife_and_habitat/wildlife/cheetah.php