When you hear about cheetahs most of you will automatically think about Savannas and Steppes in Africa. But there is one who doesn’t live in Africa: The Asiatic cheetah – Acinonyx jubatus venaticus.
The habitat of the cheetah in Iran is more mountainous and sometimes you can find them near watercourses or woodland savannas.
Some of you might be surprised now and Iran is probably not a country where you think about a big variety of countryside and wildlife. Unfortunately not many cheetahs are left there. The estimation lies around 70-100 individuals.
In the 50s the last known cheetah in India got shot. Iran is the only place in Asia where you can still find cheetahs.
Because of the mountainous habitat and due to the bit smaller size of the animal the Asiatic cheetah runs not as fast as the African cheetah. But that doesn’t mean slow!!!
In Africa and probably also in Iran gazelles with a weight less then 40 kg are the cheetah’s preferred prey.
Lack of food, unsuccessful hunt and other predators can be reasons for the choice of other prey. A serious fight with another predator like the wolf is to risky because an injury can lead to death for an animal which is dependent on speed. This is the reason why cheetahs hunt in contrast to other predators at daytime.
The Asiatic cheetah is an exception here. Rodents who come out at night are also on the menu. There is still more research necessary to find out how the Asiatic cheetah covers his food requirements!!!
Why these differences?
One reason is that because of poachers the number of the gazelles went down rapidly.
The Asiatic cheetah had to adapt his hunting behavior due to lack of prey and the habitat remained to his possibilities. He was forced to leave the flat plains and off take to the mountainous areas where they could find shelter.
Now his focus also lies on other prey like the wild sheep and the Persian ibex.