Scientific Name: Acinonyx jubalus venaticus
The Asiatic cheetah is a Critically Endangered big cat. Also known as the Iranian cheetah, it is estimated that there are less than 100 cats currently living in the wild. The Asiatic cheetah once lived in India, Afghanistan, Arabia and Pakistan. Now there are only small groups of Asiatic cheetahs in various Iranian reserves, with occasional sightings in Pakistan. The Asiatic cheetah is one of only three wild cats that can be found in Iran.
About the Asiatic Cheetah
The Asiatic cheetah is generally believed to have separated from African cheetahs somewhere between 32,000 and 67,000 years ago. More recent research places the separation at 5,000 years ago. Young cats were often captured in the wild, tamed and trained to hunt by Indian nobility.
The Asiatic cheetah can grow (from head to body) up to 4.5 feet long, with a tail almost 3.5 feet in length. Their heads are smaller than African cheetahs. The cat’s fur is tan with black spots. They also have a stripe that runs from the corner of the eyes to the nose and mouth area.
Asiatic cheetahs prefer open habitats, such as plains and deserts. Most of the remaining cats can be found in five sanctuaries:
- Touran National Park
- Daranjir Wildlife Reserve
- Naybandan Wildlife Reserve
- Kavir National Park
- Bafq Protected Area
Cheetah males will establish a territory. Females will frequently travel, sometimes for very long distances.
Hunting & Prey
The Asiatic cheetah primarily preys on gazelle, but will also eat wild goats, sheep and hare.
Cheetah males will seek out female cheetahs for mating at approximately one year of age. The females begin to mate at two years of age. Cheetah males have a low sperm count, resulting in a low number of cheetah births.
The female cheetah gestation period is 90 to 100 days. Female cheetahs can have up to 9 cubs, but most will end up dying due to predators.
The female cheetah will take care of her cubs and travel with them until they reach 1 to 1.5 years of age. After the cheetah mother leaves, the young females will go off on their own. The males will stay together or, in the case of only one or two males, join another group of males.
Asiatic Cheetah Conservation
Asiatic cheetahs prey on wild goats, sheep and gazelle. Although cheetahs are known to inhabit desert areas and plain, some Iranian cheetahs can be found in more rugged, mountain-like terrain.
The Asiatic cheetah’s near extinction is the result of hunting, loss of prey, human conflict and loss of habitat.
Asiatic Cheetah Facts
- The Asiatic cheetah is critically endangered – less than 100 cats remain in the wild.
- Can only be found in the deserts of Iran
- Has a smaller head than African cheetahs
- Preys mostly on antelope
- Males are bigger than females
Asiatic Cheetah Pictures
Asiatic Cheetah Videos