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Cheetah Agility and Maneuverability More Important than Speed

Sophisticated Tracking Collars Show Surprising Results

Cheetah in Namibia

Cheetah photographed in Namibia by Joanne McGonagle

Cheetahs might be the fastest land animal but a new study reveals it isn’t speed but extreme agility and maneuverability that’s key to bringing down their prey.  A team from the Royal Veterinary College, UK, working with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust,  used custom-built tracking collars containing GPS and inertial measurement units to capture the locomotor dynamics of cheetahs hunting in the wild.

In the 1960’s cheetahs were clocked reaching speeds of 64 miles per hour, but research using modern technology shows the cheetah’s speed at 40 mph. These studies were carried out with captive cheetahs and could give little insight into how a cheetah uses their speed in the wild. So researchers collared five wild cheetahs and tracked their movement. These sophisticated collars are capable of of monitoring speed, acceleration, deceleration and location. Data was collected for 367 runs over 17 months.

Cheetahs Rely on Agility and Maneuverability

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Cat Whisker Spot Patterns in Lions, Leopards and Me

Friends, did you know that you can identify a lion from the whisker spots that are found in rows on each side of the face?  We learned that we can also identify a male lion by his mane in our post Lion Guardians Give Each Lion a Maasai Name, but a mane can change throughout the lion’s life depending upon age and health. Only the whisker spots remain unchanged throughout a lion’s life.

Whisker Spot Pattern

Whisker Spot Pattern from www.livingwithlions.org

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Last Lion or Tiniest Tiger?

Snarling cats  Lion from Last Lions and Gracey

I have been thinking about the film The Last Lions, An Incredible True Story of Survival from National Geographic Entertainment ever since I watched it for the first time. I was so moved by the film that I wrote a review here on our Conservation Cub Club.  The film was made by  Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana, Africa.  The Jouberts  have been National Geographic explorers-in-residence for over four years.  Their body of work has produced five Emmy’s, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and induction into the American Academy of Achievement.

I just can’t seem to get the film out of my mind.  I was swept away from the opening scene and followed Ma di Tau’s struggle to survive throughout the film.  A great documentary film with  a message should leave the viewer thinking and I have been thinking about the lions in Africa ever since. Have you seen The Last Lions yet?

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The Last Lions

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Bring March in for the Lions

I had the honor of watching  The Last Lions, An Incredible True Story of Survival from National Geographic Entertainment.  National Geographic was so nice, they sent me a copy to watch here in my habitat.  The film was made by  Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana, Africa.  The Jouberts  have been National Geographic explorers-in-residence for over four years.  Their body of work has produced five Emmy’s, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and induction into the American Academy of Achievement.  Filmmaking  is their way of bringing the message of conservation to  viewers, and I think they delivered with The Last Lions.

From the opening scene of the film you will be swept away by the beauty of Africa as the film takes you on a visual journey into some of the last remaining  wild areas for lions. The cinematography is breathtaking and mesmerizing to watch, as you listen to the story being narrated  by Jeremy Irons.

The  tale unfolds  in the wetlands of Botswana’s Okavango Delta where a lone lioness  and her cubs must flee a raging fire and escape from an invading rival lion pride driven south by human encroachment from their home territory.  Ma di Tau (“Mother of Lions”) must battle alone for her survival and for her cubs.  The lioness is forced to swim across a river full of crocodile to the remote Duba Island.

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