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Distinguished Author


José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage

A Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was the curator of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon. His work at the Museum consisted in acquiring, describing and coordinating collections, many of which arrived from the Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Angola, Mozambique, etc. He published more than 200 taxonomic papers on mammals, birds, and fishes. In the 1880s he became the Minister of the Navy and later the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Portugal. The zoology collection at the Lisbon Museum is called the Bocage Museum in his honor. He was responsible for identifying many new species, which he named according to the naturalist who found them.

Species of the month

Asiatic Cheetah

Acinonyx jubatus venaticus

Acinonyx jubatus venaticus

Some facts on this feline:

Head-body length: 112–135 cm.

Tail length: 66–84 cm.

Weight: Male: 43 kg.; female: 38 kg.

Surviving number: 70 to 100.

Conservation status: Critically endangered (IUCN 3.1).

Range: The Kavir desert region of Iran.

Habitat: Semi-desert areas.

First described: By the British naturalist Edward Griffith in 1821.

Put an Acinonyx jubatus venaticus and a Lamborghini sports car side by side on a freeway. On which one will you place your bets to cross the speed limit first? It will be a very close call: The cheetah can reach a speed of 87 kilometers per hour in just 3 seconds. It is the fastest land mammal on the planet, but can maintain this formidable speed for only 200 to 300 meters. Unlike those of other cats, a cheetah’s claws are not fully retractable to enable it to grip on the ground when in a hunting sprint. Cheetahs stalk their prey to within 30 m before chasing. If they are not successful within 1 minute they give up because their bodies overheat quickly. They kill the prey by tripping it up and biting the underside of its neck, suffocating the animal. The name "cheetah" is derived from the Hindi word "chita" which means "spotted" or "sprinkled", after the striking coat. The Asian subspecies is distinguished by a thick tuft of fur on the shoulders. This is needed for bitter winters on the high steppes of central Iran where they live.

See also: Species of previous months

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