Cheetah Hunting in Namibia

Discussion in 'Hunting Africa' started by Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Cheetah Hunting in Namibia


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    The Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an atypical member of the cat family, the genus name, Acinonyx means "no-move-claw" in Greek, while the species name jubatus means "maned" in Latin, a reference to the mane found in Cheetah cubs. The word Cheetah is derived from the Hindu word "chita" which means "the spotted one". Cheetahs have solid spots as opposed to the rosette markings seen on Leopards. Every Cheetah has a unique pattern of markings similar to a human fingerprint. The actual black spot is softer than the rest of the coat hair which is more coarse. Some Cheetahs will also have longer hair in the neck area, a bit of a mane.

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    Even though Cheetahs are still sport hunted in some parts of Africa, the Cheetah is well protected legally at an international level. On 1 July 1975, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) placed the Cheetah on Appendix I, making international trade in live Cheetah or Cheetah products illegal. Local laws support CITES in many countries where Cheetahs still live. In the U.S., the Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) first listed the Cheetah on 2 June 1970, and is currently designated as Vulnerable or Endangered in its entire range.

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    The Cheetah is a protected species in Namibia, but people, mostly farmers and game ranchers, are allowed to remove Cheetahs if they pose a threat to livestock. Limited international trade in live animals and skins is permitted from Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. From January 1993, CITES approved export quotas for Cheetahs from Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa however the USFWS refuse to this day to issue any import permits. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), the Namibian Professional Hunters Association (NAPHA) and the Safari Club International (SCI) have been lobbying CITES to reclassify the Cheetah from endangered to threatened to allow for the importation of the Cheetah into the United States.

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    Captured Cheetah waiting to be processed for data collection, tagged, radio collared and relocated by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Namibia. Cheetahs make chirping sounds and hiss or spit when angered or threatened. They purr very loudly when content.


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    Rescued Baby Cheetah... This 3 month old female Cheetah was found quite thin wandering around by herself very hungry. She was relocated to a Cheetah Conservation facility near Windhoek as she would not be able to survive on her own without her mother. Young Cheetah rely on their mother's completely for food for the first year and stay with their mothers until about 18 months of age.

    It is legal to hunt a Cheetah in Namibia; however the U.S., as well as some other countries, does not permit the importation of a Cheetah hunting trophy. Canada, South America, Mexico as well as most countries in Europe, such as Spain, France and Russia will permit the importation of a Cheetah trophy.

    Hunting Cheetah with a bow is legal in Namibia, although it is very difficult to do as it requires both skill and lots of luck.

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    This is the first Cheetah taken with a bow in Namibia. World renowned bowhunter Steve Kobrine took this Cheetah with a 75 yard shot.

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    To legally export a Cheetah trophy out of Namibia, a CITES export permit from Namibia and a CITES import permit of the home country is required. Your hunting outfitter will have to submit at least 14 days prior to the commencement of the hunt an application in your name for a Cheetah trophy hunting permit to the Permit Office of the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). This basically means that if you end up taking a Cheetah without this special permit in hand during your hunting safari that you will not be able to obtain a CITES export permit to export the trophy. Currently, a hundred and fifty Cheetahs per year are allowed to be exported from Namibia.

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    Number one SCI Cheetah awaiting confirmation.

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    A Cheetah hunt is challenging because a Cheetah territory is vast, the home range for a male Cheetah in Namibia is over 2,000 square kilometers and 3,000 square kilometers for females, so they are constantly on the move and do not usually stay in one area for too long. Typical cattle and game fences are not able to prevent Cheetahs from traveling their home range. Cheetahs will use passages dug out by other animals particularly Warthog, river beds and eroded areas under fences, as well as climb over low fences and as the old saying about cats goes, as long as it can fit is head through, the rest of his body will follow. The only way that a Cheetah is a "resident" Cheetah is that it is being kept in an enclosure which it cannot escape from.

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    Cheetahs have excellent camouflage that help them stalk their prey to allow it to get within range for the final high speed chase. This camouflage makes them very difficult to spot, it's quite possible to just pass them by without even noticing them...

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    Even more challenging is the fact that a Cheetah only eats freshly killed meat so they don't respond to baiting as is commonly used for Leopard. However if you happen to come across a freshly killed antelope by Cheetahs, the chances of the Cheetahs coming back to eat their kill is very high, even if they have seen or smelled you. This is a very fortunate situation and a well placed simple makeshift hide should be quickly put together on the spot for an opportunity to see them return to their kill within a pretty short period of time.

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    Cheetah on a fresh kill, the ideal opportunity for a lucky hunter.

    Suffice it to say that Cheetah hunts are mostly done on an encounter basis, it does take a bit of luck to encounter them, usually while traveling long distances by car over a territory, some tracking can also be conducted although the Cheetah is a particularly challenging animal to track for a variety of reasons. Hunting can also be done from a blind at a waterhole or known areas frequented by Cheetahs such as particular plains, play trees and scat rocks which can increase tremendously the chance of a successful Cheetah hunt. Hunting Cheetahs with dogs is prohibited in Namibia.

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    In Namibia, Cheetahs use play trees, usually camel thorns tress with sloping trunks and large horizontal limbs, to observe their surroundings and mark the area, a perfect location to encounter them.

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    Aside from play trees, Cheetahs also use elevated areas such as rock formation and termite mounts as their preferred hanging and spotting grounds. These mounds are also referred to as scat rocks as they like to leave scat as markings. These are ideal places to check for Cheetah activity.

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    Cheetahs enjoy traveling on roads and will walk along fences for quite some distance, making it an ideal place to track activity and movement into an area.

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    Plains also are a huge part of their hunting ground and a definite place to scout for Cheetahs during the times of the day when they are most likely to be actively hunting.

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    Waterholes are a place where Cheetahs can be encountered at any time during the day, even if they do not come specifically to drink.

    No hunt should ever be guaranteed but considering the challenging nature of a Cheetah hunt no guarantee or certainty should EVER be spoken of or suggested and you should be aware that any hunting outfitter who assures you of success for a Cheetah hunt is most certainly doing something unethical in his methods or practices.

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    Cheetahs track after a light rain, by the claw marks you can easily differentiate it from a Leopard track. Cheetahs are the only cats with non retractable claws like a dog, their claws get worn down slightly when walking and running and as such they are not as sharp as most cats. The exception is the dew claw which does not come in to contact with the ground when walking or running and due to this fact is very sharp.

    The percentage of chance by the Namibian Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) to take a Cheetah in Namibia on a safari is 20 percent. To assess the percentage of chance to take a Cheetah while hunting in Namibia is certainly difficult as so many variables come into play but I would agree with that number as long as a good area and experienced hunting outfitter specifically for Cheetah has been chosen and that a minimum of 12 to 14 days of hunting is booked on a plains game hunt with the Cheetah as the priority.

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    Cheetahs are found throughout Namibia including the Namib desert in the extreme west, however some areas in Namibia have much higher densely populated areas for Cheetah making them better to hunt. Cheetah densities vary much according to prey availability, in Namibia, eastern Otjozondjupa and Omaheke regions are believed to have the highest Cheetah densities. Ninety five percent of the Namibian Cheetah population lives amongst farming areas.

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    There is no particular time of the year that is necessarily considered better to hunt a Cheetah as Cheetahs travel their home range throughout the year, however the latter part of the year June through November, which is the drier winter and spring months, may increase the chance of taking one a bit. This is true for for several reasons, during these months of the hunting season the vegetation is not as dense, the grass has thinned out and is not as tall which makes Cheetah easier to see. Cheetah are generally considered to be an animal of open country and grass lands, this impression is probably due to the relative ease of sighting the Cheetah in the shorter grass however Cheetahs use a wider variety of habitats and are found often in dense vegetation and even in mountainous terrain. Another reason is that water availability is also much more limited during this time of the year, making the possibility to encounter one from a hide at a waterhole a lot more probable especially if the Cheetah activity is high in the area. Their territories are often located in areas where there is a rich supply of wild game and water. Cheetahs prey on a variety of species from game birds and rabbits to small antelopes and the young of larger antelopes. Therefore hunting them during the later part of the year, as the young from that year have grown up, makes food availability more challenging, it forces them to be more on the go and in the open as the easy prey is no longer available thus increasing the chances of seeing one.

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    Hunting at night in Namibia is prohibited however since Cheetahs are diurnal, more active during the day than night, it is the perfect situation to hunt one. In warm weather, they move around mostly during the early morning and late in the afternoon when the temperatures are cooler however one can truly be encountered at any time during the day. A Cheetah's day is dedicated to hunting and trying to stay cool when it gets very hot. Should the opportunity at a mature Cheetah present itself, one will have a very small window of opportunity to take the shot, as they do not normally stick around for long enough. The interaction can be so brief that it may be difficult to discuss much with your PH at that time, so the discussion of certain potential circumstances should be sorted out before hand to avoid any missed opportunities or confusion. The client must be prepared and ready to shoot to seize the opportunity when it presents itself. Shooting distances will vary greatly depending upon the environment but a 300 yard (300 meter) shot on an open plain should not be out of the question should one be comfortable with it. Cheetahs are not very hardy animals so the smallest caliber allowed in Namibia for plains game, a 7 mm (.284) caliber along with a good bullet should do just fine.

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    The vertical cross hair of your scope will entirely cover a Cheetah if you are looking at it straight on, from its' front or back, while standing or sitting at 300 yards, looking the size of a toothpick making it a difficult shot.

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    Both male and female Cheetah are hunted in Namibia, the male is usually slightly larger than the female, but there are no major differences in appearance between the male and female cheetah. Adult body length 105 to 152 cm, tail length 51 to 87 cm, shoulder height 62 to 86 cm and weight 31 to 64 kg. It is very difficult to differentiate between the two and aside from being able to see the testicles of a male Cheetah there is no reliable method of judgment. Even if time allows, not seeing the testicles does not necessarily mean that it is a female as their broad and heavy tale very often conceals the "jewels".

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    A Cheetah's heavy and broad tale will often conceal its' gender.

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    Here you can clearly see the small and close to the body "cat like" testicules on this male Cheetah.

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    Here you can identify the sex of this male Cheetah however in nature circumstances will rarely afford you the opportunity to get this perfect view.

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    Barely noticeable, the gender of this male Cheetah is not obvious, making differentiating between female or male very challenging.

    Cheetahs live solitary and in groups which consist of mothers and cubs, coalitions (males) and sub-adults just after independence. Sub-adult groups may consist of both females and males, but eventually split up when the individuals become sexually mature. Male coalitions are formed when male siblings remain together in a group. Occasionally, unrelated males form coalitions as well.

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    Cheetah cub.

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    Here is a young Cheetah that is almost finish getting rid of his "cub days" mantle of gray hair on his back. Cheetahs are completely dependent on their mother until the age of about 18 months. Cheetahs are sexually mature at around 2 years of age.

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    Raised from a cub, Baloo our resident pet Cheetah who is no longer with us.
     
  2. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Cheetah Capture

    Here are a few pictures of two Cheetahs that were caught by a favored play tree. The live trap is strategically placed in the climbing path of the Cheetah, thorn bush are placed to the side of the trap to act as a boma, making the trap the passage to walk into going to the play tree. Going through it, the Cheetah will trigger the doors of the trap, capturing the animal. As Cheetahs travel often in small groups, when a Cheetah has been caught, we will check for other Cheetah tracks around the trap. Very often the other Cheetah(s) from the group or coalition will stick around long enough in the vicinity to be caught as well.

    As you can notice from the first picture, a second trap was placed to the side (on the right) of the original trap to capture the second Cheetah that was still in the area. In this case three Cheetah tracks were found though only two cats were caught. The first trapped Cheetah will be given water right away and the second trap will be brought in, placed and armed side by side waiting for the other Cheetah. The captured Cheetah will attract the other Cheetah into the set up just by being there but also by vocalization, calling the other one in. It is usually just a matter of a day or two before the other animal is caught, though meat will be brought to the first captured Cheetah usually the day after being first captured.

    The two cats will be radio collared and released by the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) after tranquilizing them, taking a complete set of measurements, ear tattooing and tagging them, collecting sperm from males which is sent to a sperm bank in the US for endangered species and taking blood samples for analysis of the overall health and genetic make-up of the free ranging Cheetahs.

    For the most part trapping is indiscriminate and due to the type of live traps that are used the traps need to be checked daily to remove any other species that has been caught. Porcupine, Anteater, Jackal, Warthog are often found caught in these ground resting cages though will often dig their way out however small antelopes and felines including Cheetahs will not dig themselves to freedom.

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    One of the Cheetah is already placed in the transport cage behind the second trap to the right while the people from Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) are trying to have the other trapped cat enter the second transport cage.

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    Our box traps have doors at both ends that are connected to a trigger mechanism attached to a rocker plate on the floor of the trap. An animal walking in and stepping on the rocker plate will trigger the trap by releasing both doors which will drop down simultaneously trapping the animal inside the live cage. Box traps with standard chain link fence mesh can be used for catching Cheetahs (see box trap on the right) however more sturdy traps with metal rods have to be used when trapping Leopards. Leopards will break free from the trap by breaking through the standard chain link fence mesh, empty broken through traps are sometimes found with only Leopard tracks to tell you what had been there. Having seen Leopards caught in this type of trap, I can assure you that you do not want to get even remotely close to a trap that a Leopard could free itself from especially as they become more aggitated when feeling threatened. Should a Leopard be caught in a Cheetah trap we will use a rope with a hook on it, and while in the car toss the hook to grab the cage from a distance, drive off and slowly flip the trap over to release the enraged beast. No one wants to be too close to a pissed off Leopard.

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  3. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Thanks for a Great Post , did gather a lot reading it all on the Cheetah .
    The name Cheetah derived from Hindi Language CHITTAH meaning spots, the last Asiatic cheetah in India was shot in 1952 by the Maharaja of Bundi in Northen India.

    Monish
     
  4. Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris

    Ozondjahe Hunting Safaris SPONSOR AH Veteran

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    Life With An Indian Prince - Hunting With Cheetahs (1939)

    Ancient Egyptians often kept Cheetahs as pets, and also tamed and trained them for hunting. Cheetahs would be taken to hunting fields in low-sided carts or by horseback, hooded and blindfolded, and kept on leashes while dogs flushed out their prey. When the prey was near enough, the Cheetahs would be released and their blindfolds removed. This tradition was passed on to the ancient Persians and brought to India, where the practice was continued by Indian princes into the twentieth century. Cheetahs continued to be associated with royalty and elegance, their use as pets spreading just as their hunting skills were. Other such princes and kings kept them as pets, including Genghis Khan and Charlemagne, who boasted of having kept Cheetahs within their palace grounds. Akbar the Great, ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1556 to 1605, kept as many as 1000 Cheetahs. As recently as the 1930s the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, was often photographed leading a Cheetah by a leash.

    Here is an incredible video segment from the film Life With An Indian Prince - Hunting With Cheetahs (1939)

    Two young Americans traveled to India to photograph and film the falconry practices of Indian royalty for National Geographic and in addition to hunting with birds of prey, members of the royal party used to hunt with Cheetahs. This sport and way of life has disappeared into history. This rare footage is quite unique and most probably the only of its kind.

     
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  5. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    This is a very rare footage , shot along with the Prince of Junagarh, now the Gir National Park famous for the only last strong hold of Asiatic Lions. The cheetahs were trained & used to hunt the Indian Black buck and the Indian Gazzelle (Chinkara) The leopards too were trained to hunt the Axis deer, Blue bull, wild boar & four horned antelopes.

    Monish
     
  6. Bapu

    Bapu New Member

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    Monish,

    Sorry to correct you this footage is with Maharaja Of Bhavnagar in 1939 and I personally know the family and not Junagadh as mentioned by you as I not only know the facts but Maharaja Of Bhavnagar is my close relative. They were trained only to hunt Black Buck and not the Chinkara. The use to hunt in our former princely state and of course in the present Velavadar Black Buck National Park which was the game reserve of the Maharaja Of Bhavnagar.I do have some lovely paintings on Cheetah coursing.

    I shall be glad if you could educate us more on leopard hunting in India as I am not aware of the fact.

    Bapu
     
  7. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Bapu, If you have some pictures of your paintings on Cheetah coursing I would really like to see that. Thanks.
     
  8. Bapu

    Bapu New Member

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    Well I shall have to request someone else to photograph them and then load them on the site as I am not computer savey. Please do give me some time.

    Cheetah coursing was very popular with Princes in India and I even had the chance of meeting the old traniers who live no more as the art of training cheetahs along with hawks has died in this region.

    Big Princely States who kept Cheetahs were Hyderabad,Kolapur,Baroda,Bhavnagar to name a few and ofcourse they had close to 35 - 100 cheetahs in there CHEETAH KHANAS as they were called. Even the smaller states kept cheetahs during Princely India. A great sport but dead now thanks to..........

    Bapu
     
  9. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Bapu,

    Thanks on correcting me, as the information furnished to me seems to be wrong as this is a very rare footage , and few veteran hunting greats did know about this.
    Leopard too were trained by very few princely states in Chattisgarh, & Madhya Pradesh which was their personal prespective and on which not much had been known , for hunting game in the dense Sal and Teak forests . Shall post some snaps on hunting with the leopards shortly which had been with the family since 1930s.
    Do post the painting details , would love see them.

    Monish
     
  10. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Cheetah Annual CITES Export Quotas

    Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) annual CITES export quotas for live specimens and hunting trophies:
    Botswana: 5
    Namibia: 150
    Zimbabwe: 50
     
  11. kurtvn

    kurtvn New Member

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    Bapu,
    Are you the Bapu of the Craighead's book? I thank you for your informative posts on this most interesting subject.

    kurtvn
     
  12. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Asiatic Cheetah

    The Asiatic Cheetah ("cheetah" from Hindi cītā, derived from Sanskrit word chitraka meaning "speckled") (Acinonyx jubatus venaticus) is now also known as the Iranian Cheetah, as the world's last few are known to survive mostly in Iran. Although recently presumed to be extinct in India, it is also known as the Indian Cheetah. During British colonial times in India it was famous by the name of Hunting-Leopard, a name derived from the ones that were kept in captivity in large numbers by the Indian royalty to hunt wild antelopes & gazelles with.

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    Bedouin hunter with a shot Asiatic Cheetah and cub, Iraq, 1925. Widespread hunting of this animal and its prey species along with conversion of its grassland habitat to farmland has wiped it out completely from its entire range in southwest Asia and India. Critically endangered with extinction now the world's last less then hundred Asiatic cheetahs survive only in the central desert of Iran.

    By the beginning of the twentieth century, the species was already heading for extinction in many areas. The last physical evidence of the Asiatic Cheetah in India was three shot by the Maharajah of Surguja in 1947 in eastern Madhya Pradesh.

    By 1990, the Asiatic Cheetah appeared to survive only in Iran. Estimated to number more than 200 during the 1970s, more recently Iranian biologist Hormoz Asadi estimated that the number of Asiatic Cheetahs left to be between 50 and 100 and figures for 2005-2006 are between 50 and 60 in the wild. Most of these 60 Asiatic Cheetahs live in Iran on the Kavir desert. A remnant population inhabits the dry terrain covering the border of Iran and Pakistan. In the areas in which the cheetah lives, locals say they have not seen it for more than fifteen years.

    The Asiatic Cheetah is a rare critically endangered subspecies of the Cheetah found today only in Iran, with some rare chances and very occasional sightings in Balochistan. It lives in its vast central desert in fragmented pieces of remaining suitable habitat. In recent times in the last century this once numerous and common animal was driven to extinction elsewhere in its entire former range in Southwest Asia from Arabia to India including Afghanistan; latest research shows that only 70 to 100 Asiatic Cheetahs are estimated to remain, most of them in Iran with some sightings in Pakistan. This is the result of continuous field surveys, all of which have been verified by the results of more than 12,000 nights of camera trapping inside its fragmented Iranian desert habitats during the past 10 years.The Asiatic Cheetah, the Eurasian Lynx and the Persian Leopard are the only remaining species of large cats in Iran today with the once common Caspian Tiger having already been driven to extinction in the last century; though recent genetic study has proven the Caspian to be genetically identical to the contemporary Siberian tiger, hinting that habitat fragmentation had separated the two subspecies within the last century.


    Monish
     

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  13. Bapu

    Bapu New Member

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    Dear Kurtvn,

    In the book it is my uncle.

    Bapu
     
  14. AfricaHunting.com

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    Bapu,
    To my knowledge only a few Cheetahs have ever been successfully bred in captivity so I must assume that the Cheetahs used for hunting in India were caught in the wild. Do you know at what age these Cheetahs were capture in order to be used for purpose of hunting? Do you know if there are any written records of techniques used by Cheetah handlers and hunters to train these cats?
     
  15. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Little written documented records are available on cheetah training for hunting in India with some Royal families. The Cheetahs were snared and trapped to become tame hunting cheetahs. It is no surprise that the cheetah was an ideal big cat for this role as they are shy and retiring in character. In India, the blindfolded cheetah was taken to the hunting site on a cart. The blindfold was removed when the cheetah was released. The cheetah would leap down and chase the prey. In recognition of its hunting skills the cheetah was sometimes called the hunting leopard.

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    It was discovered that it was much easier to train adult cheetahs to hunt as they had been trained in the basic skills by their mother. It would take about 6 months to train an adult cheetah. Cubs by contrast were relatively hard work and it took much longer.

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    From ancient times the cheetah, less dangerous to humans than the other carnivores, was captured for royalty, kept as a pet, and taken in royal processions. And just as dogs were domesticated, and then used to hunt alongside man, the same process occurred with cheetahs but was only limited to royal owners who had the resources to trap, train, and maintain these animals. This Indian tradition of hunting with cheetahs was noted by foreign observers like the Greeks and Romans, and continued up to the times of the modern princely states under British.

    A cheetah was presented to Akbar in 1555. The cheetah’s name was, Fatehbaz and it was the beginning of a long association with tame and trained cheetahs for this potentate. He was the first potentate to be introduced to the idea of hunting with cheetahs. He came to own and use a thousand cheetahs at one time, and over the period of his life he owned 9,000!

    In the West, Europeans began hunting with cheetahs one thousand years ago. Coursing with cheetahs was a popular sport in Europe, specifically, Italy, France and Italy, in the 14th and 15th centuries. The cheetah was used to chase hares and row deer.


    Monish
     
  16. AfricaHunting.com

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    Monish, Interesting information, thank you for sharing this with me. If you have anything else on training, handling Cheetah or hunting with Cheetah techniques you know where to post it! It is much appreciated.
     
  17. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    I am glad that you did relish it. I shall gather some more information on this as there is a hand written training procedure by one trainer, with one of my relatives nearly 90 years old on cheetahs, falcons & great dane dogs for boar hunting, shall try & procure that write up for your interest.

    Thanks

    Monish
     
  18. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Hunting with Cheetahs, India 1920

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    Cool picture of Leopard, India 1922
     
  19. AfricaHunting.com

    AfricaHunting.com FOUNDER AH Ambassador

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    Hunting with Cheetahs

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    Antelope Hunting with Cheetahs, India 1872

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    Prince of Wales Hunting with Cheetahs, Muckinpoora, India 1875

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    Hunting Black Buck with Cheetahs, Baroda, India 1882

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    Hunting with Cheetahs, India

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    Akbar assists in capturing a Cheetah, ca. 1590-1595
     
  20. monish

    monish AH Elite

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    Rare cheetah hunting sketches , thanks for sharing with us.

    Monish
     

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