The purr of the king cheetah. Photograph by David Chancellor @chancellordavid for @natgeo @hesc_endangeredspeciescentre
A variety of cheetah with a rare mutation for cream-coloured fur marked with large, blotchy spots and three dark, wide stripes extending from their neck to the tail.
In 1926 Major A. Cooper wrote about an animal he had shot near modern-day Harare. Describing the animal, he noted its remarkable similarity to the cheetah, but the body of this individual was covered with fur as thick as that of a snow leopard and the spots merged to form stripes. He suggested that it could be a cross between a leopard and a cheetah. After further similar animals were discovered, it was established they were similar to the cheetah in having non-retractable claws – a characteristic feature of the cheetah. Since 1927 the king cheetah has been reported five more times in the wild; an individual was photographed in 1975 in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. They are incredibly rare, even in captivity, as the distinctive fur pattern is caused by a rare mutation of a recessive gene; both parents must carry the ‘King gene’ in order for the offspring to show off the spectacular markings of a King cheetah, possibly the most beautiful of Africa’s wild cats. Working @hesc_endangeredspeciescentre a while ago on a very wonderful book, more on this shortly..with thanks to the amazing folks there for the incredible work they do. #cheetah #kingcheetah #southafrica @natgeo #bigcats #bigcatsweek #conserving #protecting #nopoaching
To see more of my work and projects, follow me at @chancellordavid and @natgeo @francescamaffeogallery