Long ago a wicked and lazy hunter was sitting under a tree. He was thinking that it was too hot to be bothered with the arduous task of stalking prey through the bushes. Below him in the clearing on the grassy veld there were fat springbok grazing. But this hunter couldn’t be bothered, so lazy was he! He gazed at the herd, wishing that he could have the meat without the work, when suddenly he noticed a movement off to the left of the buck. It was a female cheetah seeking food. Keeping downwind of the herd, she moved closer and closer to them. She singled out a springbok who had foolishly wandered away from the rest. Suddenly she gathered her long legs under her and sprang forward. With great speed she came upon the springbok, brought it down, and quickly killed her prey.
The hunter watched as the cheetah dragged her prize to some shade on the edge of the clearing. There three beautiful cheetah cubs were waiting there for her. The lazy hunter was filled with envy for the cubs and wished that he could have such a good hunter provide for him. Imagine dining on delicious meat every day without having to do the actual hunting! Then he had a wicked idea. He decided that he would steal one of the cheetah cubs and train it to hunt for him. He decided to wait until the mother cheetah went to the waterhole late in the afternoon to make his move. When the sun began to set, the cheetah left her cubs concealed in a bush and set off to the waterhole. .
Quickly the hunter grabbed his spear and trotted down to the bushes where the cubs were hidden. There he found the three cubs, still too young to be frightened of him or to run away. He first chose one, then decided upon another, and then changed his mind again. Finally he stole them all, thinking to himself that three cheetahs would undoubtedly be better than one. When their mother returned half-an-hour later and found her babies gone, she was broken-hearted. The poor mother cheetah cried and cried until her tears made dark stains down her cheeks. She wept all night and into the next day. She cried so loudly that she was heard by an old man who came to see what the noise was all about.
Now this old man was wise and knew the ways of the animals. When he discovered what the wicked hunter had done, he became very angry. The lazy hunter was not only a thief, he had broken the traditions of the tribe. Everyone knew that a hunter must use only his own strength and skill. Any other way of hunting was surely a dishonour. The wise man returned to the village and told the elders what has happened. The villagers became very angry. They found the lazy hunter and drove him away from the village. The old man took the three cheetah cubs back to their grateful mother. But the long weeping of the mother cheetah stained her face forever. Today the cheetah wears the tearstains on its face as a kind of build in sunglasses, this as a reminder to the hunters that it is not honourable to hunt in any other way than that which is traditional.
Eight fascinating facts about the cheetah
- Everybody is talking about the world record on 100 meters of Usain Bolt (9,58 seconds). Well he is hardly accelerating compared to the fastest animal in the world, the cheetah, who does it in 5,95 seconds.
- The energy surges that give the cheetah its speed give off lactic acid that leaves the cheetah with painful cramps after just 30 seconds at top speed. Even if that wasn’t the case, after around 30 seconds of that type of exertion, a cheetah’s brain will begin to overheat.
- While lions and leopards usually do their hunting at night, cheetahs hunt for food during the day. A cheetah has amazing eyesight during the day and can spot prey from 5 km away.
- If you look closely at a cheetah’s face, you’ll notice that they have black tear marks that begin from the corner of the eye and run down the sides of their face from their nose down to their mouths. These tear marks help to reflect away the sun’s glare, making it easier for them to focus on hunting their prey. In this respect is is said that cheetah’s have build in sunglasses.
- Female cheetahs are solitary, living alone or with their young. Males however, live in small family groups of 2–3 brothers, known as coalitions.
- Unlike other big cats such as lions and tigers, the cheetah never roars. It rather purrs and often make chirping-like sound to communicate with each other.
- Scientists discovered that cheetah’s are all virtually clones of one another. Probably the onset of the last ice age had decimated the cheetah population, leaving the few remaining animals to interbreed. The shrunken gene pool means that, even now, cheetahs have abnormally low fertility and are prone to birth defects that makes conservation efforts particularly crucial.
- Ancient Egyptians believed a cheetah goddess named “Mafdet” carried the pharaoh’s soul to the afterword. Cheetahs were symbols of royalty.