Akbar Hunting With A Cheetah About 1590
The oldest fossils place cheetahs in North America in what is now Texas, Nevada and Wyoming. Cheetahs were common throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and North America until the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, when massive climatic changes caused large numbers of mammals to disappear. About that time all cheetah in North America and Europe and most of those in Asia and Africa vanished. Some experts think our present populations were derived from inbreeding by those very few surviving and closely related animals. This inbreeding "bottleneck", as theorized, led to the present state of cheetah genetics: all cheetah alive today appear to be as closely related as identical twins.
The Sumerians were the first people known to tame cheetah while the Egyptians actually deified them. Marco Polo noted that many were kept as pets in the orient, far beyond their native range. Three historical figures are documented as having pet cheetah: Genghis Khan, Akbar the Great of India and Charlemagne. During his 45 year reign (1555-1600 AD) Akbar reportedly kept 9000 cheetah and attempted to breed them. But, for all his efforts, only 1 litter was produced. Cheetah are easily tamed and can even be taught to play games like "fetch". But they cannot be housebroken; even a wild cheetah will soil its resting place since it is very mobile and has no true lair. Sportsmen once used them for coursing - hunting by sight as opposed to scent. Typically the hooded cheetah was carried on horseback or in a cart. When the hunted animal came near near the hood was removed and the cheetah released. If the cheetah then caught the animal it was rewarded with some small part of the prey or a dish of blood.
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