Cheetah and Cub, By Richard Rothstein, Lakewood Ranch, Florida, USA

Cheetah and Cub

Acinonyx jubatus

Learn more about Acinonyx jubatus from the Encyclopedia of Life

Phinda, KwaZulu-Natal,
South Africa
By Richard Rothstein
Lakewood Ranch, Florida, USA

Female cheetahs live alone unless they are caring for young. They can give birth to litters of 3 to 4 cubs that stay in lairs hidden by tall grasses or in rocky areas when the mothers forage for food. Cheetah cubs are born with a “mantle” of hair on their backs that may also help camouflage them during their first months. After 8 weeks of age, the young accompany the mother on the hunt. Females tend to remain in the same home range once the young leave the nest, while males leave and form “coalitions” with other males in search of territories to claim.

“This vigilant mother was grooming her cub. When she was finished, the youngster turned and glared intensely in my direction.” —BB

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III; 500mm ƒ/4 lens; 1.4x tele-extender; 1/320 sec at ƒ/5.6; ISO 400; beanbag.