Wild Baby Cheetah
Africa and Central Iran
On the grasslands of Africa is a litter of 5-month-old cheetah cubs who love to play. Wrestling and tumbling together they teach each other important life skills to be the best cheetah’s they can be. But this little girl must be careful. As well as her natural predators she must watch out for humans. Her mother warned her that if they ever caught her they could keep her to live with them, selling her as a pet where she would never be free again.
The fastest land mammal in the world, the cheetah would leave most cars for dust reaching speeds of up to 128km/h and, perhaps even more impressive, can hit 95km/h in just 3 seconds! At these speeds’ cheetahs are not just limited to a straight line. They are very nimble, able to suddenly change direction. Once they hit their top speed, they can maintain it for only about 30 seconds.
Cheetahs can have up to 8 cubs in a single litter. These babies are born blind and completely helpless with a beautiful mohawk-like hairstyle which they lose as they get older. It is thought that this interesting hair makes them look like a honey badger, giving them some protection from both the badgers and other predators who avoid them. This is very important as cubs are at great risk of death from predation. For the first two months of their life, their mother must be very cautious, never going far from her cubs and moving them every 5 or 6 days. When this high-risk period is over, the cubs will start following their mother everywhere she goes, starting to replace their mothers’ milk with solid food. They spend a lot of time practising to hunt, with mum letting pray go for them to pounce. They will stay, playing and learning everything they need to know before leaving at around 20 months.
Most cheetah subspecies, of which there are five, live on the grassy plains of Africa. One, the Asiatic cheetah is the only surviving cheetah population in Asia and only found in central Iran. With less than 50 remaining, this subspecies is listed as critically endangered.
There are many threats to cheetahs. Habitat loss is one of the biggest threats. With more and more of their habitat being transformed in agriculture, roads, and settlements, cheetahs are finding it harder to make a territory of their own and find enough prey. In Africa, about 76% of their habitat is outside of protected areas and it is quickly diminishing. With less prey, they are forced to turn to livestock as a solution which results in an often deadly retaliation from the farmer. Being quite sociable and easy to train, cheetahs are also at risk of being caught and traded on the exotic pet trade. They are also poached for their beautiful skins.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast and #wildaboutbabies to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.worldwildlife.org/