Ancient people in India and the Middle East tamed cheetahs and trained them to ride horses

 
 
 
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During ancient times, people believed that Cheetahs were able to carry the spirit of a person much faster to the afterlife than it would otherwise travel and so consequently humans kept these animals as pets. They were considered close allies to humans, particularly during the 17th century.

Cheetahs, in general, show no hostility towards people, probably due to their sociable nature. This presumably might be one of the reasons why people from the ancient times managed to tame Cheetahs and train them as hunting companions.

Giuliano de’ Medici depicted with a cheetah behind him on horseback. Painting by Benozzo Gozzoli.

However, superstition and hunting weren’t the only reason that people kept Cheetahs as pets; people actually considered spending time with them a fun activity. Cheetah trappers, dealers, and tamers were highly recognized in society and well paid for their jobs. This gave a further reason as to why these animals were so beloved and wanted.

Sumerians were the first known Cheetah tamers. Around 1000 Cheetahs were captured, tamed and even trained to ride horses with Ancient people in the Middle East.

The first phase of taming lasted several weeks, in which Cheetahs were kept tethered and were practically forced to get accustomed to humans.

The next step of the process included tempting Cheetahs with food and training them to mount horses.At the end of the process, the tamers would slaughter animals in front of the Cheetah in order to stimulate its hunting instincts.

The entire process of taming a Cheetah lasted around one year until the animal was ready to hunt without harming the owner.

A hieroglyph from Deir el-Bahari depicting leashed cheetahs (“panthers”) Photo Credit

As every good thing has its bad consequences, keeping Cheetahs as pets affected the population of this predator in a negative way.

There are notes about an Indian Mogul who possessed around 30 thousand Cheetahs during his 49 years long regime, and this is by far, more Cheetahs than you can find in the wild today.

Hunting of blackbuck with Asiatic cheetah; drawn by James Forbes in South Gujarat, India. Oriental Memoirs, 1812.

Besides their use as hunting companions and pets, Cheetahs were also habitually killed and skinned for their fur,  which was usually worn by the kings.

Read another story from us:The original novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was actually incredibly violent, with Dorothy and friends killing nearly 100 animals during their quest

Hunting these animals had increased for use of their fur, whereas today, hunting Cheetahs is prohibited by law, and although much effort is being made to protect these animals, let’s not forget that there is still a black market for them, as there is for many protected and endangered animals.